New York’s airports serve 73 countries; Southwest launches LaGuardia flights in June

Image: Bar Rafeli
Southwest will begin its first ever flights from LaGuardia in June with five daily flights to Chicago Midway and three daily flights to Baltimore/Washington. In February, Southwest revealed SI One at LaGuardia – with a special livery featuring Bar Rafaeli, the model on the cover of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

The airports of the states of New York and New Jersey handled well over 125 million passengers in 2008 with the three main airports serving New York (all operated by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey) managing to serve over 105 million passengers. To put that in context that’s about the same as all Canadian airports in 2008 or almost as many as the combined total of all the airports in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

However, while JFK, Newark and LaGuardia are the dominant airports in the region there are seven other airports in the states which each handled over one million passengers in 2007, led by Buffalo with over five million passengers.

Image: Niagra International
Buffalo Niagara (these aren’t the actual Falls) has falls of a different type: fares are over 10% below the national average (jetBlue and Southwest account for almost 50% of capacity). The airport handles an impressive 5 million annual passengers.
Chart: Top 10 Airports

While JFK’s traffic managed to grow in 2008 (admittedly by just 0.2%), passenger numbers at Newark were down 2.6% and at LaGuardia they were down 7.8%. While JFK and LaGuardia have a broad mix of airlines with no carrier dominant, Continental and its partners have around two-thirds of all traffic at Newark. The top five airlines at each airport and their passenger numbers in 2008 are shown in the following table.

JFK (47.8m) Newark (35.4m) LaGuardia (23.1m)
jetBlue (12.2m) Continental (23.6m) American (4.5m)
Delta (7.9m) American (1.4m) Delta (2.8m)
American (7.4m) United (1.0m) US Airways (1.9m)
Comair (1.6m) jetBlue (1.0m) United (1.6m)
British Airways (1.3m) Delta (1.0m) Northwest (1.5m)
Source: PANYNJ

Based on data collected and analysed by the Office of Aviation Analysis within the US Department of Transportation, both Newark and LaGuardia consistently rank among the top 20 most expensive airports in terms of air fares with average fares over 15% higher than the national average. JFK performs better, no doubt thanks to the influence of jetBlue, but its average fares are still around 5% above the national average.

At the other extreme Buffalo’s fares are over 10% below the national average (jetBlue and Southwest account for almost 50% of all seat capacity at the airport) while in the first quarter of 2008 fares at Atlantic City airport (where self-proclaimed “ultra-low-cost-carrier” Spirit Air is the dominant carrier) were some 40% below the national average.

Scheduled flights to 73 countries; UK still most popular

Analysis of all the current scheduled international services from JFK, LaGuardia and Newark reveals that a total of 73 countries have non-stop flights to one or more of New York’s main airports. Ranked by weekly seat capacity the UK is the biggest market with American, British Airways, Continental, Delta and Virgin Atlantic all linking various UK airports to either JFK or Newark. In terms of weekly flights Canada has almost three times as many as the UK but using much smaller aircraft (average aircraft size has just 66 seats).

Chart: Top 12 Countries
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 May 2009

A total of 67 airlines operate scheduled international routes to New York with Continental by far the leading carrier with twice as much capacity as American. JetBlue thanks to its growing interest in the Caribbean market now ranks fourth for international capacity ahead of the leading non-US carriers, British Airways, Air Canada, Air France and Lufthansa.

Continental #1 for domestic routes; Southwest coming …

On domestic markets there is little to choose between Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare as the busiest domestic route across the three New York airports. A total of 97 domestic destinations are served from one or more of these airports. Continental operates around one-quarter of domestic capacity followed by Delta, jetBlue and American. AirTran, Frontier, Spirit and Virgin America are all present in the market and from 28 June Southwest will begin its first ever flights from LaGuardia with five daily flights to Chicago Midway and three daily flights to Baltimore/Washington.


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