AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME
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WAYPORTS PLANNING MUST BE DONE NOW

Near and long-term in depth study and analysis must be done now before implementation can begin nationwide. General Accountability Office (GAO) recommended this in Report GAO-02-185 (2001) that says long-term planning is needed and FAA should take a fresh look at Wayports. It was requested by and sent to Senator John McCain who was asked by a magazine "Do you favor wayports?. Absolutely, we are going to have to build them. We would not have a problem with hub concentration if we had enough airports". 

GAO said wayports would be "located on the fringe or outside of a major congested metropolitan areas. Building wayports may not face the degree of opposition that building new airports would-especially from local communities-because wayports would be further away from large urban centers. Some studies have suggested that wayports would be less costly than comparable airports built in major metropolitan areas. They could provide more open competition among airlines and would result in less airspace congestion".

 FAA contracted for a long-term study but used a near-term evaluation to form it's position. The long-term study titled "CHALLENGE 2010" recommended building 4 to 6 Wayports. It was prepared by respected industry officials. FAA would not send the report to Congress even though directed by Congress to make a long-term study of Wayports. USDOT infomed House and Senate Oversight Committees in a 2002 response to GAO's report they "would evaluate the feasibility of new airports (i.e. wayports) both in terms of their potential contribution to overall National Airspace System (NAS) performance and economic viability".  These studies have never been prepared.

Wayports would be strategically located to supplement the hub & spoke system at new sites, former military airfields or underutilized airports that could become the economic nucleus of new airport cities. Wayports would overcome land and development costs, environmental concerns and opposition associated with developing new airports. O&D and connecting passengers would be delivered to wayports by all airlines including low-cost and regional. Many would come by highways and high speed rail. Passengers would drive further to wayports to avoid congested inner city terminals and surface transportation. Cargo operations could be the primary activity until passenger traffic builds up. Private interests may be interested in developing Wayports which will save local, state and federal funding.

If a wayport system is to come on line in the next 20 years, sites must be identified and land, airspace and airways reserved and protected. It takes lots of time to get new sites approved or to identify existing airports that could be expanded into a Wayport. New sites cannot be implemented if FAA does not protect them as they do existing runways.Wayports would be phased in on a scale to meet demand.

Wayports should have been evaluated as an alternative to new runways at existing airports since a precedent was set in FAA's approval in 1992 of new runways at D/FW. USDOT/FAA Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) approved for new runways at D/FW Airport included Wayports as a "feasible"  alternative (See DEFINITION). FAA stated in the FEIS that Wayports studies were being prepared. 

Expansion of existing hub & spoke airports could be avoided by reducing or relocating activities including passengers, cargo and mail to a Wayport. This would provide hub airports with additional capacity at minimum cost. Reducing activities at hub airports will make them available to local passengers with less delay and congestion. It would allow local passengers, U.S. and Express mail and cargo to expand and overcome concerns  of those who fear losing business if connecting flights are reduced.

National leadership is critical in providing a nationwide airport system free of congestion and delays. The federal government must be involved. This cannot be left entirely to others. Congress initiated this by charging USDOT/FAA to develop a nationwide aviation system. The federal government now owns and operates the nationwide enroute and terminal Air Traffic Control System. It’s currently planning and implementing a Next Generation Air Transportation System (NEXGEN) costing billions of dollars to update and modernize Air Traffic Control.

 

Wayports should be addressed in the NEXGEN program. The initial effort should be to plan where Wayports sites should be located and when and how fast they should be phased in. Intermodal planning should be integrated to include wayports, highways and rail systems. FAA now provides funding for airport planning and development. FAA can provide local and state governments that want to develop Wayports with financial assistance or they could be built with private money. Commercial development generated by an Airport City, domestic and international cargo, just-in-time operations, and general aviation development around Wayports would be initial activities that supports airport budgets until passenger levels build up.  

 

Wayports is a valid concept. Legislation titled the “Wayports Development Act” was introduced in Congress supported by members of both House and Senate.  Three FAA Administrators including one who was Senior VP of Air Operations at FedEx supported in depth studies of wayports. Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) along with respected airport managers pushed for Wayports. Wayports has been supported all over the world by major media, aviation organizations and U.S. and international developers. Wayports are being developed in Australia, Norway and Siberia. Many Governors supported Wayports. NY Governor Mario Cuomo advocated Calverton to be a Wayport while others said Stewart AFB could serve as a Wayport for the NY Region. Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and several other states passed Wayports legislation. International developers wanted to build Wayports in several countries in Europe. The U.S. Postal Service endorsed Wayports as well as others with the list to long to publish here.

 

Wayports is described as the Interstate Aviation System because they supplement the nationwide airport system just as the Interstate Highway Systemsupplements nationwide surface transportation. Support for Wayports was given because congestion and delays were unbearable when they were first proposed. It’s worse now than then. Only two large hub airports have been built in the U.S. in the last 60 years at Dallas-Ft. Worth and Denver. Both replaced existing large hub airports. No supplementalairports like Wayports are coming on-line unless planning and decision making is started soon.

 

David Grossman (USAToday 12/07) wrote an article titled “Wayports can save travelers from Hellacious Hubs”. John Chancellor of NBC News said on his Nationwide Nightly News Program that “Wayports is an idea that restored his faith in human ingenuity”. Sir Colin Marshall, Chairman and founder of British Airways said “If you believe in free market play as I do, you cannot have it if the physical plant availability’s prevent it.  Beyond this, the cost of the congestion in money and stress terms is becoming unbearable worldwide. Therefore, there has to be a different answer, and one which has considerable potential merit was suggested here; it requires the construction of a new kind of airport known as the “Wayport”. 

Congress should take another look at Wayports recommended by U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO-02-185 dated December 2001 titled Long-Term Planning is Needed)and evaluate its potential to solve near and long-term aviation in America. The GAO report was sent to Senator John McCain, member at that time of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation who when asked if he favored wayports said “we are going to have to build them”.

 

Those who support Wayports should let Congress and others in authority know they want it evaluated as an alternative to continued unlimited expansion of existing large hub airports.  Those who spoke against Wayports without performing research should perform it before commenting. Large hub airports now promoting Airport Citiesand major airlines that felt threatened and opposed Wayports because they might siphon off business should rethink their actions. Those who said wayports could not survive with less than 20% origin/destination passengers (O&D-those who begin and end their flight at an airport) need to know several large hub airports in the U.S. thrived on only 10% O&D for years.

 

Orlando International (OIA) is an underutilized spoke airport. It has enormous unused capacity to off-load hub airports like Miami and Atlanta. OIA has no non-stop international flights by major U.S. airlines. OIA is an example of why planning for a wayports system nationwide is justified. It's an example of vision and long-term planning and a role model for what next generation airports look like. Only two new hub & spoke airports were built in the last 60 years at new sites at Denver and Dallas. OIA was built on an abandoned military base. It is the equivalent of new site. OIA has over 90% origin/destination passengers making it the third busiest O&D airport in the U.S. behind Los Angeles and Chicago. Orlando has more O&D passengers than Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Denver, JFK and Boston. It does not have non-stop international flights by major U.S. airlines. International passengers on U.S. airlines connect thru the hub system. OIA is the third largest land mass airport in the U.S. with 14,000 acres with two 12,000 ft. long runways that can be  extended to 16,000 ft. The airfield and terminal provide massive long-term capacity.  It's already accommodating next generation new large aircraft like the Airbus A380 and the B-747-8. Orlando is the largest tourist destination in America with the largest rental car market in the world. It's economically strong and produces $126B to the local economy because O&D passengers generate revenue to the airport and community as compared with connecting passengers who rarely leave the airside gate area.  Its' the kind of airport that serves the community rather than an airport where up to 80% of passengers use it for connections and could care less where they connect as long as flights are on time. America needs a system of large hub airports to accommodate growth over the next 40 years.

Peotone is also a Wayport. It's a new airport located in a rural area on the fringe of the Chicago Metro area. It's planned for 20,000 acres but will use a smaller amount in a first phase development. It will off load congested and landlocked airports in the Chicago and Northeast Corridor. Peotone has been held back by those who fear a Wayport system would off-load and siphon off activity from large hub airports like Chicago O'Hare.