Massport Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham today announced that Massport will continue to work with the FAA to solve Logan’s delay problems by completing supplemental work on the proposal to build a new runway. The announcement came following a meeting between FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and Buckingham earlier today.
"Jane Garvey has made it clear again and again that delay reduction is a top priority for her administration," said Massport Executive Director and CEO Virginia Buckingham. "The facts on the new runway clearly demonstrate it can reduce delays at Logan, so we will continue to work together to make it a reality."
While Massport remains committed to continuing the regulatory process, Buckingham called on Garvey to personally get involved to help resolve outstanding issues surrounding the runway, including:
- obtaining an unqualified commitment from the FAA that a new runway will be used for take-off and landings over the water only (unidirectional use);
- having Garvey join Massport officials at community meetings helping make the case for the runway before local community groups and elected officials; and,
- directing FAA officials to work with Massport in developing creative environmental mitigation.
"This week alone, a new runway could have helped thousands of New Englanders to get where they were going on-time," added Buckingham. "We will continue to work with the FAA to pursue the best solution to Logan’s delay problems."
The supplemental studies requested by the FAA will add a step to the runway approval process. Before approving the new runways currently under construction in Minneapolis, St. Louis and Seattle-Tacoma, the FAA also asked airport officials there to complete supplemental work.
In 1998, Logan experienced over 120,000 hours of delay, five times the FAA threshold for congestion. The FAA ranks Logan as the seventh most delay prone airport in the U.S. and a DOT Air Travel Consumer Report consistently ranks Logan near the bottom for on-time arrivals. Since 1991, the percentage of on-time arrivals has ranged between a high of 78.3% in 1991, to a low of 69.9% in 1996. In 1998, Logan ranked 28th out of the 29 airports compared, at 71.4%. "With all the technical analyses conducted so far, we could have paved the runway with paper," said Buckingham. "However, if it takes more, we’ll do it."
Massport has argued that the runway is needed because when strong northwest wind conditions occur, the capacity of the airfield drops dramatically -- from three runways to two or in the worst case scenario just one runway. Under normal weather conditions, Logan can accommodate up to 120 operations (a combination of take-offs and landings) per hour using three runways. With two runways, Logan’s operations drop to 90 per hour; and with one runway, Logan’s operations plunge to 60 per hour. Logan was limited to just one runway on both January 14 and 18th.
In addition to improving the operational efficiency of Logan’s airfield, the new runway will bring noise relief for communities that are currently subjected to a disproportionate amount of airport noise. By allowing air traffic controllers to more equitably distribute overflights, the new runway would actually bring Logan closer to meeting community noise goals. The one-way runway would also move 75,000 more flights a year out over the water and away from surrounding communities.
The FAA regional office co-filed the environmental documents for the runway with Massport last year with Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. In the submission, Massport and the FAA stated the goals and rationales for its proposed airside improvements, provided detailed data on current and future delays and fully assessed their environmental benefits and impacts.
Massport and the FAA also participated in a lengthy and very public review process that included over 60 meetings with local community groups and elected officials to provide information and answer questions about the runway. In addition, Massport provided more than $200,000 in funding for the Community Advisory Council (comprised of representatives from the 22 communities located closest to Logan) to hire their own technical consultants to review Massport data on the runway and assist them in developing comments during the review period. Massport also participated in two public hearings sponsored by MEPA.
"We are proud of our record of public participation and the strides we have made to solidify a regional aviation system," said Buckingham. "We intend to redouble our efforts when we make a supplemental filing for the runway fulfill our obligation to the millions of travelers and businesses who depend on Logan every day."
Although Logan's airfield has remained unchanged since the late 1960s, its passenger and operations growth has been staggering. Massport believes that in addition to growth at regional airports, the proposed airside improvements are an essential part of ensuring that Logan responsibly accommodates the future needs of the region.