Major runway closing at JFK airport
March 1, 2010 ·
Even if you avoid big delays, you could face higher fares. George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog said some fares are up significantly for the March-June period. For example, the lowest published fares for flights between JFK and Los Angeles International Airport through June 20 range between $278 and $298 roundtrip. That’s up from $198 to $218 recently. Delays and higher fares will affect Los Angeles travelers the most because the city is the most popular domestic destination from JFK, followed by San Francisco and Orlando.
Airfares usually rise as spring approaches. But the lowest published fare from LaGuardia, just 8 miles west of JFK, is $100 cheaper for a connecting flight in the same time period — a more significant gap than normal. Nonstop flights to the West Coast aren’t available from LaGuardia.
The shutdown also affects the coordination of flights, and the people who make sure the planes take off and land safely.
Steve Abraham says he and his fellow JFK air traffic controllers must learn how to move aircraft efficiently without the use of their biggest runway. That could add more time to takeoffs and landing, at least initially. Fifty percent of the controllers at JFK have less than 4 years of experience.
“It’s like renting a car in England — you know how to drive but you’re driving on the other of the road,” Abraham said. “I know how to say ‘clear for take off’ but I’m just doing it in a configuration that I’m not used to.”
JFK airport officials opted for the four-month total shutdown rather than a construction schedule that included overnight work for 2 to 3 years. That’s a move Abraham says air traffic controllers support.
“I’d much rather inconvenience people for four months than for two years.”