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Bureau of Transportation Statistics Prove MacArthur Has Exceptional Tarmac to Take-Off Record

86% time departure record exceeds national average
On- Nolan Invites Travelers from Other Airports to Come to Fly LIMA Instead

December 2009 - As the United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood instructs airlines to abide by a new three hour departure rule or risk hefty fines, Long Island MacArthur Airport (LIMA) is inviting “tarmac refugees” traumatized by excessive delays at other area airports to fly LIMA instead.

Following the White House announcement of the new rule, Town Supervisor Phil Nolan stated, “At Long Island MacArthur Airport there is no such thing as gridlock. We simply have never had the crisis in congestion that holds passengers hostage for hours in aircraft waiting in line for take-off.”  Added Commissioner of Aviation Teresa Rizzuto, “We welcome those passengers and airlines who want to make sure they don’t have to put this new federal rule to the test.” 

Statistics from the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) show that LIMA has no gridlock. According to the BTS, while the national on-time departure performance is 81 percent, at more nearly 86%, LIMA exceeds the national average for on-time departures.  Conversely, both JFK and LaGuardia are below the national average.  Furthermore, according to BTS, in 2009 LIMA’s average tarmac-to-take-off time is less than nine minutes, in contrast to LaGuardia with nearly a 27 minute average and JFK where the average exceeds 33 minutes.

The Department of Transportation stated this week that under the new regulations airlines operating domestic flights will be limited to three hours when keeping departing passengers on board before they must allow passengers to disembark a delayed flight. Airlines will also be required to provide food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac, and to maintain operational lavatories. The regulation provides exceptions only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.

The issue has repeatedly come to the attention of federal regulators when passengers are forced to remain in an aircraft on the tarmac for hours, due to weather or more often, ground congestion. The most dramatic example came when snow and ice led one airline to leave multiple planes full of passengers sitting on the tarmac at New York's JFK International Airport for more than ten hours.  Furthermore, at JFK in the month of October 2009 alone, eleven flights were delayed for more than three hours each.

“Passengers and airlines have choices,” said Rizzuto. “For those airlines that want assurance that they can get their aircraft into and out of the New York region easily, quickly and safely, LIMA is the obvious choice.  Equally important, smart consumers want to know that they can use an airport that protects their ‘quality of flight’ experience before they even take off.”

Concluded Nolan, “We understand why the White House felt compelled to make a point of this issue. However, the federal government’s own Bureau of Transportation Statistics proves that LIMA is already the standard bearer for streamlined, efficient service, making La Hood’s three-hour rule irrelevant to operations here.”