Northeast airspace fix to give SFO a lift

San Francisco International Airport stands to benefit from a federal decision to reconfigure the heavily congested airspace in New York — the point of origin for most of SFO’s inbound delays — and Philadelphia.

The Federal Aviation Administration made a final decision late last week, after years of discussion, to redesign the New York, New Jersey — both part of the same airport jurisdiction — and Philadelphia airspace. The clogged airline hubs often cause across-the-board delays.

In some cases, the congestion has put hours-long dents in travel itineraries. Figures released by the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics last month found that of 21 SFO-bound flights that left passengers stranded for three to four hours in June, all but three were from one of the Big Apple’s three anchor airports — John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia International.

There are currently layers of airspace meant for different types of aircraft. By retooling these layers and integrating them more, FAA officials say they will create more efficient arrival and departure routes.

The FAA estimates the changes will cause 20 percent fewer delays in the air traffic system by 2011.

After Los Angeles, SFO’s most popular domestic destination is the New York metropolitan area, which sees nearly 9 percent of all its domestic traffic, according to airport figures. Though SFO officials could not be reached for comment, they have said in the past that any measures to avoid delays into and out of San Francisco would be a welcome change.

All of the major airlines, represented by a trade organization dubbed the Air Transport Association, have repeatedly pointed the finger at outdated air traffic control systems as the reason for hours-long delays or cancellations. They applauded the FAA’s most recent decision to retool the East Coast airspace, adding that the congestion still highlights a need for next-generation, satellite-based air traffic control.

“The long-awaited program is a much-needed first step to relieve unprecedented congestion in the Northeast and to maintain high standards of safety,” ATA president and CEO James May said.

According to a separate set of figures and projections, Bay Area airports will go the way of New York if the local and federal governments don’t team up to ease congestion by, among other methods, diverting regional jets to smaller airports in the state. There are currently no plans to redesign airspace in the Bay Area as is being done on the East Coast.

tramroop@examiner.com

Voice your opinion and vote in our poll at examiNation SF: What's your experience at SFO in terms of flight delays?

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read