Tuesday, August 03, 1999

Airport delays multiply

New runway would help, officials say

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — The growing problem of airport flight delays is only going to get worse at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport unless a new north-south runway is built, airline and airport officials said Monday.

        The number of flights delayed — defined as flights that take off 15 minutes or more ater leaving the gate — has more than doubled this year compared to 1998, according to Federal Aviation Administration figures published Monday.

        “There is a great need to increase capacity,” said Dave Anderson, a spokesman for Delta Air Lines, which has about 200 flights a day out of Cincinnati.

        “And that's just not an issue in Cincinnati,” he said. “It's an overriding issue basically across the country. But it does point out that with the growth of flights out of Cincinnati we continue to encounter these types of delays ... and the need for that third north-south runway.”

        The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that FAA figures show the number of flights delayed at the airport is up 142 percent this year compared to 1998.

        A 1998 study by PB Aviation Inc. of Cincinnati for the FAA found an average eight-minute delay for aircraft at the airport, compared to a national average of 10 to 12 minutes.

        But the study also forecast that the average aircraft delay would reach 12 minutes by 2003 and 20 minutes by 2006 without a third north-south runway, said airport spokesman Ted Bushelman.

        “The airport is growing not only passenger-wise, but also in the number of flights coming in and leaving the airport,” Mr. Bushelman said Monday. “We keep adding flights, and that creates the problem with delays.”

        The number of passengers going through the airport in 1998 grew 6.5 percent to 21.2 million, four times the national average. That compares to 19.9 million in 1997, 18.9 million in 1996 and 15.2 million in 1995.

        “It's sort of a trade-off,” Mr. Bushelman said. “Passengers want frequent, convenient, nonstop flights. But that requires adding more flights and causes these delays. That's why the (Kenton County Airport) Board is planning a new runway.”

        The airport is considering an 8,000-foot north-south runway that would cost about $85 million. If approved by the FAA, construction isn't likely to begin until 2003.

        During the weekend, Comair reached 300 flights a day, with more new flights scheduled to be announced this week.

        “People want to fly jets to more and more destinations,” said Comair spokeswoman Meghan Glynn. “They're getting more access than ever before, but that means more flights. A third runway would help increase the traffic flow in and out of the airport.”


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