The ambitious plan, commissioned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, calls for significant and costly alterations to the region's two largest airports. At Newark, adding an additional runway would require demolishing one existing terminal and part of two others. At Kennedy, building one or two additional runways would require reorienting existing flight paths and possibly infilling part of Jamaica Bay. Additionally, air traffic control systems must be modernized before the airports an accomodate additional flights.
Expanding the airports is widely seen as critical to the region's economic future, writes Patrick McGeehan. The report estimates that not expanding may cost $16 billion a year in lost airfare and up to $6 billion in lost wages from 125,000 jobs.
However, any expansion plan will likely meet political obstacles, says McGeehan:
"If the proposals are accepted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy, Newark and La Guardia Airports, they would surely encounter stiff resistance from local and national advocates for the environment, the report admits. They would also have to survive the political tug of war between the governors of New York and New Jersey, who jointly control the Port Authority."