The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is considering lifting what is known as the perimeter rule for LaGuardia Airport, which currently restricts flights out of the airport to shorter, domestic trips. Zack Fink filed the following report.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is going big on LaGuardia Airport.
Last week, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, the governor outlined an ambitious plan to rebuild the airport that opened for business in 1939.
"New York's greatness was driven by its ability to dream big and to build bigger," Cuomo said. "Our growth was always a function of ambition meeting intelligence with that New York attitude that just wouldn't take no for an answer."
Right now, LaGuardia has what is known as the perimeter rule, which prevents flights from traveling farther than 1,500 miles. It has been on the books for 30 years, but has been practiced for much longer. As a result, carriers like Delta, with its major hub at LaGuardia, cannot fly lucrative routes to the West Coast or Europe.
Delta is investing capital in the redesign, and the Port Authority is now considering ending the perimeter.
"I think that it's an important part of their expansion strategy," said Stephen Sigmund of the Global Gateway Alliance.
But getting rid of the rule comes with other concerns. This week, upstate lawmakers wrote a letter to Cuomo asking him to oppose the change. They fear that flights that originate at LaGuardia and service smaller airports, like Buffalo and Rochester, will be pushed out in favor of more profitable routes.
"As we're trying to get more access to New York and its markets in the suburban and metropolitan region, this would necessarily displace those flights around medium-sized cities," said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle.
The change at LaGuardia would also likely affect United, which has its hub at Newark Liberty, and JetBlue, which flies primarily out of Kennedy. The latter two are not constrained by the perimeter rule.
"There's an impact on everybody, particularly on the three big airlines that made the New York area their hub," Sigmund said.
In a statement, a spokesman for JetBlue says, "A change in the perimeter rule would add an additional layer of traffic and complexity to an already challenging environment."
Supporters of lifting the benefit say more competition will ultimately benefit consumers and increase access to underserved cities.