John F. Kennedy Airport will close a major runway for most of the spring and summer travel season, which sounds like it'll be terrible, but probably won't affect any flights. IF WE'RE LUCKY, that is.
NYC Aviation reported today that JFK runway 13L/31R will close on Sunday for a total of 41 days, as part of a major $292 million reconstruction and rehabilitation project. And once that one's open in April, major runway 4L-22R will close for renovations; it will likely remain closed through nearly all of September (though the Port Authority's website estimates the project won't be complete until December 2015).
This seems like cause for concern, since departing flights from JFK already seem prone to long waits on the tarmac. But a spokesperson with Port Authority says this should minimally impact departures and arrivals, since JFK has four major runways and tends to use only two or three at a time. Yep, they have runways to spare. Think about that next time you spend 45 minutest taxiing before takeoff.
BUT DON'T NOT PANIC YET: NYC Aviation notes that while "the number of aircraft movements possible should be close to what is possible during normal operations," there's always a WORST CASE SCENARIO, like if outside circumstances lead to the temporary closures of all but one runway while 13L/31R is closed:
Any situation where an airport the size of JFK is limited to the use of a single runway is going to cause significant delays for both arriving and departing traffic. This exact scenario was witnessed recently, when snow removal operations left only Runway 31L available for about 45 minutes. Many aircraft were placed into extended holding patterns, and several either diverted to other airports or began to divert until a second runway reopened.
And that same circumstance won't be fun when Runway 4L/22R's closed, either:
Of course, any situation where only Runway 4R/22L can be used will be the worst case scenario during Stage 3 of construction. That runway is furthest from the terminals, and will require both inbound and outbound aircraft to cross the area under construction.
Oh well, hope for the best but prepare for the worst, and bring a good book and drugs on your next flight out of JFK.