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Revisiting Massport’s ESPR Meeting

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I was recently revisiting Massport’s ESPR meeting, and one exchange leapt out to me, so here is the transcript.

Dave: My name is Dave Matthews, a private citizen.

The single highest impact thing Your organization could do to deal with the problems [..] that people are bringing up to you here–the noise and pollution–would be to restrict growth.

The second most impactful thing you could do would to ban nighttime flights.

And you guys aren’t doing either of those things. Instead, your’re cheering the arrival of 420 more flights from delta and roughly an equivalent number from JetBlue.

Why not restrict flights and push that growth to share the impacts of with airports instead of what you’re doing now which is externalizing the pain and the noise and pollution of flying onto the people of this community.

If it costs more to the flyers–we say though. They flyer should bear the cost of flying.

And if it means a flying passengers has to wait 2 more hours in Dubai for his connection. So. I think the answer’s tought–he’s got wait 2 more hours; It’s not here’s another 2:30 AM departure time so that the connections work out nicely. Especially for flights like Cathay-Pacific. If you need to be a good neighbor, those are the things you would do.

My second issue. Is with the one already brought up here I’d like to hear comment on it: you continue to severely under predict the impacts of flying and the number of flights. Why?

Flavio: When you look the forecasts we’ve done, we’ve both undershot and overshot. One thing that’s critical when you look at the modeling we do and the impacts we analyze, we do look at future growth so it’s really less about the passengers because we’re gonna always kind of overshoot and undershoot, which you can see in our EDRs.

It really when you look at the growth of flights and vehicles–we have done a good job of predicting the cumulative effects of the impacts and clearly we’re an urban airport.

Dave: Do you still believe your predictions from 2007?

Flavio: I do. Some of the comments assume we will grow at 5% forever and there’s no real history that that’s the case and we are experiencing what is now the longest (I think) it’s officially the longest economic expansion in the history of the United States and we’re very much correlated to the economy.

I could show you a clear correlation between a recession and a downturn in an expansion and after and that’s because Logan airport is really the front door to Boston.

We’re not an Atlanda or Chicaho O’Hare where half of like just people shuffling around between planes because you’re connectin

There’s confusion about Logan becoming a hub. When Delta says hub that’s more focused about them looking at the point to point service out of Boston focusing on that it’s not about the connection like Atlanda where you’re just shuffling between planes. Over 90 percent of our traffic is O&D. that’s me that’s you, that’s people coming in people in Florida, that’s people in this region products not people connections optimizing an airlines network. And that is expected to continue I don’t see anything and we don’t see anything that would change fundamentally.

Dave: Can you make any comment at all about flight restrictions?

Flavio: The problem is we are federally regulated and we cannot have access restrictions. So any restrictions that I hear about–first of all if its in Europe that’s a totally different regulatory and legal scheme–second of all the United States there are some reports that have limitations but they grandfathered. So we have actually limitations that we couldn’t do today but we have in place because they are grandfathered so we have restrictions on engine run-ups and on certain runways. […] We just can’t go and implement those things–they’re against federal regulations.

Dave: So if Cathay-Pacific calls and says “We want 3 more flights at 2AM”, you just say ‘yes’? Is that what happens?

Flavio: Okay so basically we cannot restrict access; we federally regulated transportation system that is impacting our communities, and we work hard to mitigate that, but we cannot restrict in a regulated environment and we cannot set routes and charges. that’s the federal law. And that’s what we’re guided by. Wwe work with the airlines–we work hard–I think we do a very good job given what we have. I think if you look at our fleet mix we have a huge percentage of newer aircraft that are here that provides benefits. Again its one too many for you and closer communities but we do work hard at that but we cannot have access restrictions.

[Please elaborate]

In 1990 the United States passed the Airports Noise and Capacity Act And that was a national deals that basically said: All the airlines would eliminate all the old Stage 1 and Stage 2 planes, but they said to Congress “If you’re gonna have us eliminate those planes, we don’t want to have a bunch of community meetings around the country where people tell us to have restrictions.

So the deal that was made was that there would be no local access restrictions. So whatever was in place at the time were grandfathered.

Landing fees are separate; they are we recoup our runway costs.

So that is the exchange that happened and that’s the regulatory framework we’re under today today.

Part 161 provides a process for restrictions, but no one in the United States has been successful to date. There was a case where an airport tried to restrict Stage 2 aircraft and they failed.

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