...But Those Planes Are Airliners, Not Bizjets
The skies around New
York's LaGuardia International Airport are becoming increasingly
thick with small jets... but don't be too quick to blame corporate
The Wall Street Journal reports during the 5:00 pm arrivals rush
into LaGuardia last Wednesday, over half of the 41 jets trying
to land at LGA were regional aircraft. And five of those 21 planes
weren't even RJs... but turboprop puddlejumpers.
Given the limited space available at LGA, wouldn't it make sense
for the airlines to use fewer, larger aircraft? The Wall Street
Journal reports one would think so, but for two reasons: the
airlines like having more flights available with smaller planes,
and so do passengers.
The WSJ also notes this problem is often lost in the rhetoric
surrounding the FAA's plan to revamp the nation's airspace... and,
on how to fund the NextGen system. The FAA and Air Transport
Association -- lobbying group for the nation's largest airlines --
march lockstep in their beliefs small corporate aircraft are
increasingly to blame for clogging the nation's air traffic control
system... but seem to overlook the fact airlines are also flying a
greater number of smaller aircraft.
As ANN reported earlier this
year, the airlines have objected vehemently to the
FAA's proposal to limit the number of arrivals and departures into
LaGuardia... including strict limits on aircraft with less than 105
On Monday, the FAA denied a request by the ATA and Regional
Airline Association to extend the comment period on the proposal by
30 days; comments are due by September 6.
It isn't difficult to see why the smaller airliners are causing
problems. At LaGuardia, half of all flights now involve RJs and
turboprops, according to the WSJ. The situation is much the same at
other large hub airports, including Chicago's O'Hare, Newark
International, and New York's JFK International.
An interesting study by Eclat Consulting in Reston, VA paints
the picture in vivid colors: from 2000 through 2006, US airlines
grounded a net 385 large planes -- while adding a whopping 1,029
regional jets, according to data from Airline Monitor.
In addition to providing passengers with more travel options,
airlines like using regional planes for other reasons, too: when
full, RJs can offer lower per-trip operating costs than larger
airliners. The planes are often flown by newer, lower-paid pilots,
Lately, airlines have taken to outfitting their regional jets
with more plush accomodations, including first class sections --
making the smaller planes even more attractive to business fliers,
who already enjoy the greater flexibility in scheduling the smaller