JFK Runway Reopens After Months-Long Construction

Nov 19, 2017

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If you’ve noticed that flights to and from New York’s JFK airport have been more delay-prone than usual in the last few months, there’s a reason for that. One of the airport’s four runways was closed for construction from September 5 through Friday, November 17. Mercifully that 8,400-foot runway has now been reopened just in time for the onslaught of holiday flights.

This is the last planned closure of the 4R/22L runway, which was originally closed in March and has been worked on in stages ever since. As the shortest runway at JFK, 4R/22L isn’t as critical as the airport’s other three runways. However, it’s the most technologically equipped runway at JFK. According to the Port Authority, landings on runway 4R can occur with as little as 600 feet of visibility. Meanwhile other runways at JFK require at least half a mile (2,640 feet) of visibility for landing.

This third stage of the construction plan (caution: PDF link) accomplished the following:

  • Decommissioning of Taxiways F and H
  • Construction of New F & H (within RSA)
  • Widening and rehabilitation of portions of Taxiways E and Z
  • Rehabilitation of portion of Taxiway J
  • Drainage Outfalls 20 and 21

During construction, it wasn’t just JFK’s traffic that was affected by the closure. As explained in a National Business Aviation Association brief on the construction:

“The Runway 4R/22L closure at New York’s John F Kennedy International (JFK), scheduled through Mid November, will adversely affect some other New York airports when on certain arrival configurations. When JFK is forced to the ILS 13 approach configuration, La Guardia/LGA will also be forced to utilize their ILS 13 approach. When LGA is using the ILS 13 approach, Teterboro/TEB arrivals to Runway 19 are shut off as the LGA ILS 13 and TEB ILS 19 can’t be run simultaneously. This necessitates a ground stop at TEB as well as the possibility of a low rate ground delay program if use of the ILS 13 at LGA is extended for several hours.”

Thankfully that’s no longer a concern now that all of JFK’s runways are now open. Also, having all runways available should help as winter weather begins to place additional strain on air traffic in the NYC area.

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