Representatives from leading engineering, aviation and airport planning companies joined those from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at Vaughn College on Wednesday (April 12) for a day-long discussion on managing airport issues in the 21st century.

The conference, titled “Understanding Airport Issues in the New Reality” was sponsored by the New York chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. It addressed airline mergers, rising fuel prices, new technology and aircraft and the chronic problem of congestion. It was Vaughn’s first time hosting the event, which has been held annually since 1998.

“At $48 billion in revenue generated in the New York area, that’s more than Microsoft’s annual sales,” keynote speaker Matthew Baratz, deputy director of capital programs for the Port Authority, said. “At 415,000 jobs, the aviation industry is also the largest employer in Queens.”

Industry leaders filled rooms 101 and 103 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. before leaving for an inside tour of LaGuardia Airport. Other discussion topics included airport realities in a post-Sept. 11 world, airport redevelopment to meet emerging challenges and industry-government relations.

Jeffrey Zupan, senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association, presented a formula to mitigate one of the industry’s biggest stumbling blocks—congestion, a multimillion-dollar issue in the metropolitan area. The Regional Plan Association would employ elements of NextGen air traffic control technology, make better use of outlying airports and intercity railways and even consider airport expansion to offset traffic.

“We laid out our objectives for the future, into the 2030s, so New York can maintain its position as the leading tourist destination and more,” Zupan said.


Keynote speaker Matthew Baratz of the Port Authority addresses a gathering at Vaughn on Thursday.