Regional Plan Association Recommends Upgrades to Region’s Airports Including Expansions, Enhanced Transit Connections & Climate Adaptation

Regional Plan Association Recommends Upgrades to Region’s Airports Including Expansions, Enhanced Transit Connections & Climate Adaptation


Passenger traffic at region’s three major airports has grown by 27 million passengers since 2009, and these airports rank 1st, 3rd and 4th for having the worst delays in the nation


New RPA Report Outlines Upgrades that Would Reduce Delays by 33 Percent and Allow for a 60 Percent Increase in Airline Passengers


NEWARK, NJ – As the summer travel season kicks-off, Regional Plan Association (RPA) has released a report entitled “Upgrading to World Class - The Future of the Region’s Airports Revisited” which outlines the need and a vision for expanded, better connected and climate change adapted airports to increase capacity and support continued growth. RPA leadership unveiled the report today at a City Hall news conference with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.


This report builds on RPA’s long track record of research and planning for airports in the tri-state area, dating back to the middle of last century. Prior reports helped establish the region’s current system of three major airports managed by the Port Authority and argued against the creation of a fourth jetport in the 1970s. RPA’s last report on the state of the region’s airports issued in 2011 called attention to the severe constraints facing the region’s airports. Since then ridership has grown nearly twice as quickly as predicted and though some of the technological improvements that the report called for have been implemented, no actions have been taken to begin the process of adding new runway capacity at any of our region’s largest airports.


Passenger growth at JFK and Newark airports has led to growth in jobs at and around the airport, contributing to the economic revival of Jamaica, Queens and the city of Newark. In Newark, the report’s recommendation for a redesigned airport with easy rail access would reinforce the the city’s role as a global and regional hub.


RPA’s new report calls for upgrades to the regions airports totaling $50.8 billion over the next 30-40 years including:


New capacity: two new runways at JFK and one new runway at Newark


Better transit connections: improved Airtrain access and a one-seat ride to JFK, a new front-door for Newark Airport which would give passengers seamless access to the airport from PATH, NJTransit and Amtrak, and an Airtrain alignment for LGA that would allow for connection to the #7 line at Willets Point as well as LIRR.


Increased preparation for climate change and sea level rise: beginning to plan now for the eventual phasing out of Teterboro Airport, which is is likely to be partially flooded at one foot of sea level rise (predicted by 2050) and fully flooded at three feet of sea level rise (predicted to by the end of the century or sooner), and reinforcing efforts to protect the other airports from both sea level rise and storm surge.


"Newark International Airport is already a major driver of Newark's exponential growth in economic development and jobs. The airport's success has created the need for a serious makeover to make it more convenient, user-friendly and accessible. The Regional Plan Association’s proposals for better transit connections, increased capacity and preparations for climate change reinforce the City of Newark's efforts to create an airport second to none. – Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Mayor of Newark


“Our region’s economy is thriving, and air passenger travel is booming. But all three of our major airports suffer from some of the worst delays in the nation and traffic getting to and from our airports. We need to invest to build a modern airport system for our growing region. This includes expanding runway capacity, providing transit connections, and continuing to improve the customer experience.”  – Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association


“As part of our research we looked at what cities around the world are doing to make their airports work better for passengers. London has repeatedly invested in upgrading transit connections to Heathrow. They’re also about to embark on an ambitious expansion of that airport. We need to continue to innovate to keep up with other global cities.”  – Rich Barone, Vice President, Transportation, Regional Plan Association


“New York’s business community shares RPA’s assessment of the need for additional investment in expansion and upgrading of our regional airports, as spelled out in this report. Connectivity to the global economy is critical to the city’s future economic growth, which requires increased airport capacity and better airport access” – Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City


“New York has long been considered the capital of the world, and we need airports that can adequately accommodate our tens of millions of visitors from across the globe. The New York Building Congress applauds the Regional Plan Association new report, with recommendations that will not only expand our capacity and bring our airports into the 21st century but will allow for the continued economic growth of our city and state. We strongly support the full redevelopment of both LaGuardia and JFK airports and integrated mass transit options to all three regional airports, as well as any measures that will make our infrastructure more sustainable and resilient.” – Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., President and CEO, New York Building Congress

The report was developed as part of RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan, its long-term vision for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area.


Click here to view the full report.


Click here for graphics from the report.




About Regional Plan Association

Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resiliency and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced four landmark plans for the region, the most recent was released in November 2017. For more information, please visit or