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LaGuardia renovation presents opportunity for Upstate airports

Bret Jaspers/WXXI News

Upstate airports may have a lot at stake with the recently announced plan to renovate LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Flight slots into New York City are highly coveted by the airlines, according to Mike Hall. Hall manages the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport. He said that who gets which slots are determined by the airlines, airports and federal regulators.

"There’s competition between the airlines for slots because they can’t provide service if they don’t have a slot. And those slots don’t change on a daily basis, they change [on a] longer-term basis," he said.

At the moment, there is no direct passenger flight between LaGuardia and airports in Ithaca, Binghamton, and Elmira-Corning. Halls said that Ithaca lost flights to LaGuardia a few years ago.

He thinks there might be an opportunity to get some slots back with the planned renovation. "If the airport changes significantly in its ability to handle traffic and passengers, then those kinds of subjects will be talked about again," Hall said.

Another factor is the "perimeter rule." Right now, planes that leave LaGuardia Sunday through Friday can’t go farther than 1,500 miles - unless they’re going to Denver. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has said that it's considering a change to that restriction.

It could mean more long-distance flights and fewer flights to Northeast regional airports. 

But how, exactly, a change to the perimeter rule would affect the Southern Tier is hard to predict. Hall says it’ll all be up for discussion.  

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