2010-07-02 / Top Stories

JFK Runway Reopens, Changes Flight Path

By Howard Schwach

Runway 12R-31L reopened this week, bringing more air traffic over the west end of Rockaway. Runway 12R-31L reopened this week, bringing more air traffic over the west end of Rockaway. Runway 13R-31L, often called the Bay Runway, the workhorse of John F. Kennedy Airport’s four airstrips, was reopened on Tuesday, after nearly four months of intensive renovation.

At 14,572 feet, the runway is the second longest commercial landing strip in the country and it handles a third of the airport’s traffic, including more than half of its departures. The great majority of those departures take the aircraft over Jamaica Bay and the west end of the Rockaway peninsula.

The project widened the runway from 150 to 200 feet and included a new drainage system, new electrical infrastructure, the addition of delay reduction taxiways and accommodations for future navigational aids. The project supported 1,000 direct and 1,500 ancillary jobs, including direct construction work, asphalt and concrete production, running of aeronautical lighting and food services.

The reopening of the runway will bring more flights over the west end of Rockaway, experts say.

Departures from that runway fly either the Bridge Route, which takes them over the Marine Parkway Bridge and then over the tip of Breezy Point and out to sea or the WAVEY waypoint departure, which takes the flight over Belle Harbor and then out to a waypoint about 35 miles southeast of Rockaway.

Officials say that the airport reconstruction project was important to both the city and the state.

New York Governor David A. Paterson said, “With the completion of the Bay Runway reconstruction, John F. Kennedy International Airport has stepped boldly into a new era of transportation that will mean jobs, new revenue, and greater economic growth for the entire tri-state region. The project represents a vital infrastructure investment that will boost our economy by making the region a more accessible and desirable place to live, work, and do business. My thanks to The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for its leadership and hard work; to our airline partners, whose cooperation and sacrifice were so essential; and of course to the Federal Aviation Administration for its collaboration and expertise.”

Rockaway residents will remember that Runway 13R-31L was the departure point for American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 that crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001.

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