Efficient taxying – New York shows how it’s not done


By a weird but genuine coincidence, a day after posting my observations on taxying times I was sent the latest US Bureau of Transportation Statistics on…aircraft taxying times. I didn’t even know they collected the data. The special report is eccentrically titled Sitting on the Runway: Current Aircraft Taxi Times Now Exceed Pre-9/11 Experience – but you get the general idea. Below are some highlights.

  • For US airports the average time between pushback and take-off was 16.7min in 2007 – which is up from 13.8min in 1995.
  • 93% of flights took off within 30min of pushback compared to 96% in 1995.
  • Taxi-in time has grown from 5.5min average to 6.9min in the same time.
  • New York’s airports are much worse than the average – JFK average taxi-out in 2007 was 37min, Newark 30min, and LaGuardia 29min.
  • Next worse were Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, Houston, Minneapolis-St Paul,  Atlanta, and Washington Dulles at 19.7min.
  • Hubs are worse than non-hubs and the bigger the hub the bigger the problem, in general.
  • Strange stat – you recall how at Exeter Flybe launched two Q400s from the gate to lift-off in a total of 13min. Well at little ole’ Nantucket Airport, with two scheduled flights per day, the average taxi-out was a tedious 19.8min because flights were held due to conditions at their destination of Newark.
  • Infuriating stat – 234 flights taxied (if that’s the word) for more than four hours after pushback. And 44 went past five hours.
  • But the good news is that long taxying times don’t generally make flights late (in the twisted sense in which the air transport industry uses the word). That of course is because airlines know how dire the situation is and so they factor it into the schedules.

And finally, here’s some more news for the industry – the US Transportation Research Board is on your case. It will soon award a contract for an investigation of how much “hazardous air pollutants” jet engines emit while at ground idle.


One Response to Efficient taxying – New York shows how it’s not done

  1. Tony Ashworth July 18, 2008 at 8:25 am #

    21 June lunch time flight Thai flight to Bangkok, nearly 30 minutes in the queue at Heathrow whilst 14 aircraft took off before us. Some of those arrived at the runway hold area after the Thai flight!

    I wonder how Heathrow’s taxi times compare to the major US Airports?

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