Surface congestion management is gathering momentum as a recognised method of cutting emissions and reducing delays. Partners at JFK Airport raise standards even higher with a unique combination of sophisticated technology and collaborative decision-making for sterling results.

 ACS 19 JFK congestion


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in partnership with airlines operating at JFK, deployed the Surface Congestion Management Program in 2010 and has been making continual improvements to the system ever since. The number of parties involved in making the system successful is unprecedented as it requires teamwork between air traffic control, airline ramp operators, central airline control centres and the Port Authority.

The concept behind the programme is to establish the number of aircraft allowed to taxi during a given time period, based on variables such as weather, time of day and regional air traffic. The system uses sophisticated hardware and software technology in conjunction with collaborative decision-making.

With the goal to minimise the departure queue at JFK, aircraft are held at the gate or a remote holding with engines off, rather than in a departure line with engines idling and awaiting take-off. Through the programme, flights are placed into a virtual queue, or 15 minute departure ‘buckets,’ based upon coordination between ramp personnel, the metering desk, and air traffic control.

The project proves that using such a system airport-wide and year-round (rather than for specific airlines and in certain weather conditions) can bring major positive benefits for all parties – and the climate.