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Fewer Airports Could Mean Less Air Congestion

Freakonomics argues that eliminating one New York airport would allow the others to operate more effectively.
May 17, 2009, 7am PDT | franny.ritchie
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There has been substantial publicity lately surrounding air traffic congestion in and out of New York City. There had been talk of auctioning landing and take-off spots and of taking other drastic measures to curb the number of flights in the New York Metro region. Stephen Dubner writes, "During a recent ground delay at LaGuardia, I got to talking with an off-duty pilot for a major airline who was extraordinarily knowledgeable about every single airline question I could think to ask him. (With any luck, he'll soon be joining us here as a guest blogger.) When I asked for his take on New York air congestion, he said the solution was easy: shut down LaGuardia.

"If the LaGuardia cylinder were eliminated, he said, Newark and J.F.K. would both operate much more freely - and, since LaGuardia handles far less traffic than the other two airports, it is the obvious choice for shuttering.

"But there's a problem: LaGuardia is the favored airport of the people with the most political power in New York, since it is a very short ride from Manhattan. So it's unlikely to happen, at least anytime soon. But if it did, my new pilot friend insisted, New York air travel would move from nightmare to dream."

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Published on Friday, May 15, 2009 in Freakonomics - NY Times Blog
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