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Airport traffic at Kennedy, LaGuardia to rise, Port Authority says

Air travelers will find Kennedy and LaGuardia airports

Air travelers will find Kennedy and LaGuardia airports a little more crowded this spring, according to the Port Authority. Credit: Uli Seit

Kennedy and LaGuardia airports will be more crowded for spring travelers, according to the Port Authority.

The agency, which runs Kennedy and LaGuardia as well as Newark airports, is projecting passenger totals at LaGuardia to rise by 2.4 percent from a year earlier in April, May and June, to a total of 7.7 million for the three-month period.

At Kennedy, the forecasted increase is higher for the period — 3.8 percent to 15.4 million.

The agency didn’t give a reason for the larger increase at Kennedy, except to say that airlines have scheduled more seats out of the larger airport. But veteran airline analyst Robert Mann, principal of R.W. Mann & Company Inc., an airlines consultancy in Port Washington, attributed Kennedy’s expected growth to the substitution of larger aircraft for smaller ones on international flights, plus some additional flight frequencies.

Most flights from LaGuardia are domestic. Kennedy’s are a mix.

“With the dollar’s strength against foreign currencies, I would expect a significant increase in outbound tourism,” he said, adding, that the increase would be tempered somewhat by a decline in visitors from nations where currencies are weaker.

He said he doubted any long-term impact from the deadly terror bombings in Brussels Tuesday. “The market has a surprisingly short memory on these kinds of events,” he said.

Larger planes also are replacing smaller ones at LaGuardia, said Mann, but federal limits on landings and takeoffs at the airport to avert choking air traffic delays severely limit the number of new flights that can be added.

Takeoff and landing times, or “slots,” are limited at Kennedy only in the afternoon, but virtually round-the-clock at LaGuardia.

At Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, officials forecast passenger totals this spring would be about the same as a year earlier, but expect a year-over-year pickup starting in June when another carrier, National Airlines, begins serving the Islip Town-owned field with six weekly nonstop roundtrips to Puerto Rico.

Earlier this month, an air carrier trade group, Airlines for America, forecast a 3 percent increase in passenger loads during March and April on U.S. carriers, to a record of 140 million passengers in the two-month period.

The total includes more than 17 million travelers on international flights.

“To meet the extra demand, airlines are deploying new and larger aircraft on many routes,” the group said.

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