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24 1.3.3 Implications of Scale between the 1.4.1 Comparing Congestion Delay Two Study Areas between East and West Coast Mega-regions The first observation about the two study areas is that the West Coast generates about twice the volume of short dis- Importantly for the interpretations needed in this research, tance air passengers than does the East Coast. And within the those delays were not evenly divided between the two coasts. West Coast study area, it is the air trips between the Bay Area Figure 1.5 shows the sharp differences in the delay patterns of family of airports to the north and the Los Angeles Basin fam- the two coast study areas. The "Total Delay Index" (Figure 1.5 ily of airports to the south that dominate the travel. The Los and Table 1.2) has been calculated by the research team as the Angeles region, served by LAX, Burbank, John Wayne, Long average frequency of delay multiplied by the average duration Beach, and Ontario together, generates some 8 million trips of delay, plus the average frequency of cancellation multiplied to or from the Bay Area region, which is served by the airports by a value of 3 hours delay per cancellation. It is expressed as of San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK), and San Jose (SJO). number of minutes of delay per total airport passenger. The In terms of coast-versus-coast comparison, the volume of index was calculated from Bureau of Transportation Statis- air travelers between the Los Angeles region and the Bay Area tics (BTS) Transtats data (5), for the 12 months between Jan- region is 5.3 times the air traveler volume between the New uary and December 2007. York region family of airports and the Washington/Baltimore The difference in the severity of the problem between family of airports. It is 4.7 times the volume between the coasts is somewhat surprising, given the widespread belief Boston region family of airports and the New York region that delays are ubiquitously distributed around the country. family of airports. It is also clear that air travelers on the West But, it is clear that what SFO experienced in 2007 is quantita- Coast have a short-distance trip generation rate that is more tively similar to the delay experienced at MHT and Providence, than three times that of air travelers on the East Coast. Chap- RI (PVD), which are regarded as East Coast airports with ter 2 will discuss in some detail the extent to which this dif- excess capacity and minimal delays. The economic impact ference in reliance on air travel can be traced back to a of the aviation delays at the larger airports is presented in massively higher dependence on rail in the East Coast study Section 1.5 for 2007 and Section 1.6 for 2025. area, particularly in and out of the New York region. 1.4.2 Where Is the Lack of Capacity? 1.4 The Problem of Airport From a nationwide perspective, there is no lack of airport Congestion in the Mega-regions capacity at which to provide hubbing operations. But inter- The research team has estimated that the phenomenon of connecting hub airport congestion is not the dominant factor aviation congestion associated with 11 of the largest airports in many of the project study areas where the most serious con- in the two coastal study areas resulted in passenger-perceived gestion occurs at the OD airports. In those cases where hub- delays calculated in the billions of dollars in 2007, as docu- bing activity occurs, as at EWR or Washington Dulles (IAD), mented in Section 1.5. the hubbing carriers have options to shift connecting traffic to Minutes per passenger trip East Coast Airports West Coast Airports Figure 1.5. Total delay index for East Coast and West Coast airports, expressed as minutes per passenger trip (5).
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25 Table 1.2. Total delay index (5). Total Delay Index for East and West Coast Airports, 2007 Airport Delay Index Airport Delay Index Newark 32.6 SFO 18.7 LaGuardia 29.5 LAX 13.3 JFK 27.7 LAS 13.2 Philadelphia 23.5 Burbank 12.3 Dulles 23.0 John Wayne 12.0 Boston 22.3 San Diego 11.7 Reagan National 20.1 Long Beach 11.3 Providence 19.3 OAK 10.9 Manchester 18.2 Ontario 10.5 Bradley 17.3 San Jose 10.4 BWI 14.5 other hub airports in their systems. The ability to shift connect- be seen as a "perfect storm" of capacity failure. The decision ing traffic to other airports makes congestion at connecting by one airline to build a major domestic hub at JFK was fol- hubs more of an individual airline problem than a broad pub- lowed by a competitive response by other major airlines at lic policy issue. In recent years, airlines have closed fully func- JFK. Those combined airline decisions turned that airport tional hubs at St. Louis and Pittsburgh, following the earlier from a major international gateway with congestion during abandonment of hubbing operations at places such as Kansas limited hours of international activity to the most congested City and Raleigh-Durham. In the current round of airline airport in the United States, requiring federal intervention in mergers, connecting hubs such as Cincinnati and Memphis are the form of flight limitations. In general, major study area air- now experiencing significant reductions in activity. The coun- ports have 3050% of their runway capacity devoted to oper- try has plenty of hub capacity available, in the event that carri- ations in small regional jet or turboprop aircraft in response ers hubbing in the mega-regions choose to shift connecting to airlines' scheduling decisions over which the airport oper- traffic away from those areas in favor of accommodating addi- ators have no control. tional OD traffic. The research question then turns to whether The events of the summer of 2007 were summed up by the decreasing domestic feeder services at coastal airports would or FAA, in the Federal Register of January 17, 2008, as follows: would not damage their support of important longer distance services. Chapter 4 of this report presents an analysis of the role Market competition spurred by new-entrant, low-cost carri- of longer distance flights needing to be fed by shorter distance ers and the competitive response by legacy airlines have gen- flights, presented on an airport-by-airport basis. erated much of the increase in air travel demand. Among the Having made large investments in airport capacity, opera- trends are new and expanded route networks to lesser-served markets connecting major hubs with regional jet service. The tors of airports in Kansas City, Raleigh-Durham, St. Louis, additional service in some cases provides no net increase in seats and, more recently, Pittsburgh had no effective control over between origins and destinations but provides more operations airline decisions to abandon those airports as connecting in the system with greater numbers of smaller capacity aircraft. hubs in their systems, thereby negating the substantial invest- The experience of summer 2007 shows that congestion is a ments in capacity at those locations. In the summer of 2000, problem today. Airlines at New York JFK International Airport SFO suffered significant delays due in large measure to the increased their scheduled operations by 41 percent between March 2006 and August 2007. As a result, the number of arrival delays decision by an airline to substantially increase the SFOLAX exceeding one hour increased by 114 percent in the first ten market with high-frequency shuttle flights. In the summer of months of fiscal year 2007, compared to the same period the pre- 2001, LGA airport was brought to a standstill by airlines' vious year. During June and July 2007, on-time arrival perfor- scheduling increases permitted by mandated relaxation of mance at JFK was only 59 percent. Moreover, delays resulting from pre-existing slot controls under the high-density rule. operations at New York metropolitan area airports alone can account for up to one-third of the delays throughout the entire national system. The congestion in the New York airspace has 1.4.3 Capacity Issue Reaches a Crisis: ripple effects across the national airspace system, causing flight The Summer of 2007 delays, cancellations, and/or missed connections. These delays impose economic and social costs on airline passengers and ship- Many of the factors associated with excessive demands on pers; airlines incur extra costs for fuel, flight crews, and schedulers. aviation came together in the summer of 2007, in what might Delays are likewise beginning to increase at San Francisco (6).
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26 1.4.4 Defining the Problem: way stakeholders view passenger service and capacity man- Looking for Solutions agement. The airport managers and airlines spoke out against the idea of the federal government setting airport caps. Air- To examine the problem of capacity and demand manage- port management spoke as being responsible for the entry ment6 and implications of reducing congestion at airports, point of passengers to their city; the airlines were concerned members of the research team organized a session in January about the government engineering their business plans. In 2008 at the 87th Annual Meeting of the Transportation the panel discussion, the airport operators noted their desire Research Board (TRB) to discuss capacity issues at the New to "accommodate demand of folks who want to come to and York airport system and airport capacity issues nationwide. leave our region." It is for this reason then that the airport This session received input from an airport operator, an air- operators rejected the operational caps imposed, a sentiment line representative, a manager with a federal perspective, an the airline representative supported. aviation research academic, and aviation consultants. As the There is an interesting balance between providing fre- session unfolded, it was clear that different experts and stake- quency and providing reliability. Excessive frequency leads holders approach the subject of capacity and demand man- to low reliability, and vice versa. At the session, the aviation agement in a different way. Such a finding illuminated the research academic noted this delicate balance: complexity of the multiple interpretations of the problem. Discussions about capacity and congestion focused on issues to solve the problem we have to start looking at the demand side regarding the number of operations per hour at congested air- of the equation and find ways to reduce demand or to moderate ports. Multiple--not necessarily mutually exclusive--solutions demand into the busiest airports. . . . If you try to control were presented and debated such as operational caps, market- demand in aviation that means the airlines have fewer flights into the busiest airports. This does not mean that passenger service based mechanisms, technology enhancements, and multimodal has to be diminished, or that passengers have to take fewer trips. solutions. Main themes involved (a) the balance between offering passenger service in terms of flight frequency and More directly challenging the employment of very high destinations in a congested region and reducing delays and frequency at the expense of reliability, the aviation research unreliability that a congested airport or region can present academic followed up with a situation where "there are three and (b) who should be at the table to determine solutions to airlines that provide hourly service between LaGuardia and capacity and congestion problems. Washington National airport." In response to comments like these, the airline representative stated that "somebody's 188.8.131.52 The Balance Between Capacity demanding those services, whether it is because airlines offer Management and Passenger Service superior service to (rail service) or it beats driving." Further- more, not mentioned with this reasoning is that the airlines The balancing of passenger access times or schedule delay defend their market share by providing frequency; abandon- penalties with actual delay savings becomes a central theme ment of service does not immediately lead to a reduction in for resolution. On the one hand, the passenger values high- flights, as a competing airline can enter into the schedule at frequency services. At the same time, that passenger may be any time. The impact of lowering overall volume on the num- totally unaware that the lack of reliable services at the airport ber of flights scheduled is examined in Chapter 2, which pres- stems, in part, from the proliferation of high-frequency, low- ents a case study of the impact of a decline of air passengers capacity aircraft. Thus it becomes important to consider both between Boston and the New York airports. capacity management and passenger service when developing This discussion among multiple stakeholders shows how solutions. This is noted in the debate over operational caps, on there is not a clear path to choose in balancing flexibility and up-gauging, as well as in a discussion of multimodal solutions reliability. The following section addresses the need to involve to reduce redundancy in flights. Consistent with the themes multiple stakeholders in developing a solution. developed in this early outreach section, Chapter 5 elaborates on these themes, leading to suggestions in Chapter 6. At the TRB session, it was noted that restricting the num- 184.108.40.206 Multiple Stakeholder Solutions ber of operations per hour, or managing airport access to To sum up the challenges of providing and managing reduce congestion, gives an initial insight into the complex capacity and bringing all stakeholders to the table, the staff member from the FAA explained, "the administration does 6 As discussed in Chapter 5, the term "demand management" is used to describe not have the luxury of one solution that will benefit one seg- strategies to limit delays that occur if too many aircraft are scheduled to arrive at ment of society. We must balance all concerns." To find and an airport during a particular time. Under this use of the term, demand manage- ment is not meant to refer to any program designed to decrease the number of agree on solutions to capacity, delay, and congestion issues, trips made. there are complex roles and responsibilities that must be deter-