One of the best things about New York’s LaGuardia airport is its proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn. Right now, however, that quick access can only be enjoyed by those flying into LaGuardia inside of a 1,500 mile radius, a halo outside of which the airport restricts flights.
With a new $4 billion renovation on the horizon and some lobbying from the airlines, though, that perimeter rule may fall — and the result may be a boon to long-haul travelers.
LaGuardia’s perimeter rule was implemented in 1984 to ease congestion and move more passenger traffic out to the larger JFK and Newark airports. With a better terminal in the works though, some, especially the airlines, argue that LaGuardia can handle a larger and more varied load. Dropping the perimeter rule would allow flights from the west coast including San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles to access New York’s “express” airport while international destinations with pre-departure immigration could also begin service.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, the two carriers that operate 28% and 40% of the flights out of LaGuardia respectively, would benefit from the relaxed restrictions the most. But Delta, the airline that’s deepest-involved in rebuilding the new central terminal, is taking the most hands-on approach to pushing through the change. Though they’ve been lobbying the feds since early this year, this past week they petitioned the port authority further to consider relaxing the rule.
Lest anything think that Delta has long haul travelers in mind, that also may only be part of the story. Increasing the number of west-coast flights from LaGuardia will surely increase Delta’s competitive stance in New York City, while those flying short-haul could actually suffer.
Still, for the lion’s share of business travelers — many of whom fly over 1,500 miles from LaGuardia — the relaxed perimeter rule could bring a great deal ease to the current, complex New York commute. Add in a brand new terminal that brings LaGuardia into the 21st century, and New York City may soon actually have a world-class airport.