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Boston Logan Airport Makes ’10 Worst’ List for Delays, Cancellations

As frustrated travelers trying to catch flights out of Boston’s Logan International may already know, the airport rates as one of the worst among major airports when it comes to delays. An analysis by the Family Destinations Guide, using data from the Bureau of Transportations Statistics, ranked Boston the ninth worst in the nation.

According to federal data, nearly a quarter of all flights leaving Logan were delayed (22.9 percent), compared to top-performer Salt Lake City, where 85 percent of departures were on time. And nearly four percent of Logan departures were canceled entirely, the third-highest rate on the list.

Logan spokeswoman Jennifer Mehigan said Logan’s delay rate isn’t that bad, relatively speaking.

“When you look at Logan’s 22.9 percent delay rate, we did better than a number of other airports,” Mehigan said.

Orlando International Airport was the worst in 2022, with a delayed rate of close to 29 percent of all flights, followed by Newark Liberty International at 26.5 percent. Newark also has the highest cancellation rate: 5.94 percent of all flights.

Defenders of Logan note Boston flights must contend with brutal northeastern winters. “We can’t control the weather,” Mehigan said.

But snow is hardly an oddity in Utah, Minneapolis, or Detroit, three of the best-performing big airports.

At the same time, smaller New England airports also struggled to get flights out on time.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport had a 24.16 percent delay rate in 2022, and a cancellation rate of 4.26 percent according to federal data. Both are higher than Boston Logan.

TF Green International Airport in Providence left flyers waiting 23.69 percent of the time, but it had a lower 3.79 percent cancellation rate.

Christina Lawson, spokeswoman for Manchester-Boston Regional, said the New Hampshire airport still offers good service despite the delay rate. The ability to fly out of an airport in New Hampshire, rather than having to first get to Boston or Rhode Island, is also a big plus, she said.

“In the winter, MHT is often open and operational during bad weather that can cause other airports to divert or delay flights,” Lawson said. “Choosing to fly MHT allows our passengers ease of travel and a higher confidence that their trips will go according to plan. Our passengers don’t have to worry about traffic or long lines—MHT is easy to get to, easy to get through, and makes it easy to get going.”

Another challenge is the fact that New England’s flight paths are in the northeast corridor, which is among the country’s busiest airspaces Mehigan said.

“The volume is typically high and it’s another thing we don’t have control over,” Mehigan said.

Combining the high volume in the northeast and the fact that most air carriers don’t generally have direct flights, favoring the use of hub airports to connect travelers, a delay in another part of the country can spell trouble for people flying out of Logan, Mehigan said. Logan officials try to let customers know as soon as possible about possible issues that could slow them down.

“For travelers in New England, we’d like them to be educated. If there’s a major storm in Florida, we get the message out to Boston passengers about potential delays,” Mehigan noted.

Given the regional challenges, Mehigan said some delays are a fact of life for flyers. That’s why Logan is serious in its effort to at least make the wait nicer for people who are delayed.

“The things that we can control, we have been improving the customer experience while they are at the airport is a large priority for us,” she said. That means faster, more secure WIFI, enhanced options for food and drinks, art displays, and even activities for children

“We’re constantly trying to think of what could make a better experience for our passengers if they do get delayed at the airport,” Mehigan said.

NH Commuter Rail Scheme Would Leave Property Taxpayers On the Hook

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas hopes New Hampshire gets a new commuter rail service connecting Nashua and Manchester to Boston. Critics note how few Granite Staters use available rail now and don’t think local property taxpayers want to pick up the estimated $11 million tab to subsidize the trains.

Commuter rail is part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package pushed by President Joe Biden and supported by all the members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation. Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes $66 billion for rail, in November.

“This is a project that continues to bubble from the bottom up here in New Hampshire,” Pappas told Manchester’s InkLink last summer about the Capitol Corridor rail project. “I hear about it everywhere I go, residents who are looking for an opportunity to get to work, businesses that are looking to attract the kind of talent they need, and from local leaders who understand this can be an economic engine for New Hampshire.”

The train service would potentially go from Manchester through to Lowell, Massachusetts, with stops in Nashua and at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. 

Greg Moore, with the libertarian American for Prosperity organization, said New Hampshire cannot afford the fare. The service cannot operate without a taxpayer-funded handout, he said.

“Every state study has shown that it would require substantial taxpayer subsidies to benefit a small number of riders,” Moore said.

Moore said there are better ways to solve commuting problems that meet 21st century needs. He suggested private services like Turo or ZipCar, as well as Uber and Lyft.  

“Trying to jam an expensive 19th-century transportation solution onto the hard-working taxpayers of New Hampshire makes no sense,” he said.

A common argument from opponents of expanded rail is Granite Staters rarely use the service that’s currently available. The Amtrak Downeaster, for example, connects the Seacoast towns of Dover, Durham, and Exeter with Maine and Boston. According to Amtrak, New Hampshire riders make up less than 20 percent of the total ridership.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, fewer than 2,000 trips a week began or ended in the Granite State. During the pandemic when ridership fell, the number of trips originating or ending in New Hampshire fell to 362 per week. Neither of those numbers is enough to sustain rail service without taxpayer subsidies.

In fact, Amtrak — often hailed as a success story — has received annual federal subsidies of $1.5 billion to $2 billion, in addition to the new billions from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. And the only reason service in the Northeast “pays for itself,” as advocates claim, is because of inventive bookkeeping that hides a huge backlog of needed maintenance and the subsidies it receives from state governments.

State Rep. George Sykes, D-Lebanon, a member of the House Transportation Committee, said every form of transportation, from air travel to bus service, is subsidized by taxpayers to some extent.

“There’s no free lunch when it comes to transportation,” Sykes said.

Sykes said rail service would be a net financial positive for the state in the long run when factors like increased development and savings on highway maintenance costs are considered. Paying for the service through taxes or fees just goes the territory, he said.

“My question to (those opposed to rail) would be, name me one aspect of transportation where they don’t have to pay for, one way or another.”

Sykes’ colleague on the Transportation Committee, Aidan Ankarberg, R-Rochester, doesn’t want his voters to have to pay for a service they are not going to be able to use. He recently filed a bill that would keep any state funding from being used for the rail project.

“It is not fiscally responsible or the New Hampshire way to expect my constituents in Rochester to pay for a commuter rail in Manchester that very few people will use,” he said. “My bill protects Rochester and other Granite State taxpayers from this boondoggle before it begins.”

Ankarberg said the most recent Department of Transportation report on the commuter rail, which estimates the state would need to subsidize the service at $11 million, is several years old and out of date. The true cost for the service to taxpayers is likely closer to $16 million, he said. That money would come from increased property taxes, or cuts to education funding, he said.

“While current estimates aren’t available, the DOT previously suggested raising statewide property taxes by $15.7 million or diverting 5 percent of our education funding in order to cover the commuter rail’s operating and management costs,” he said.

That kind of spending isn’t going to catch on in New Hampshire, according to Moore.

“Thankfully, there is little appetite in the state legislature for saddling state taxpayers with this backward approach,” Moore said. “New passenger rail isn’t happening anytime soon.”