New group lobbies for New York airport improvements

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A new advocacy group, Gateway Global Alliance, has formed to lobby for funds to upgrade the New York area's three major airports.

The alliance is composed of business, labor and civic representatives. Joe Sitt, CEO of real estate developer Thor Equities, is the alliance's founder and chairman.

The Gateway Global Alliance said it formed because a Partnership for New York City study indicated that the declining state of local airports could cost local economies $79 billion by 2025, including more than $16 billion in lost revenue and $5.5 billion in lost wages.

The group is looking at short-term and long-term solutions. These include money to redevelop LaGuardia’s Central Terminal, improved access to the airports and an additional runway at JFK. Other goals are making security screening more efficient and fully implementing the FAA's NextGen technology for New York’s airports.

“New York is a global gateway, but the level of attention and the investment we have given to our airports doesn’t create the kind of reputation necessary to ensure we realize their full economic potential for the region,” said Sitt.

“We can either sit by and watch billions of dollars in lost revenue and economic growth fly right by, or we can take aggressive action to once again make New York’s airports the best in the world. We’re choosing the latter.”

Other members of the alliance's board of directors are Joseph Spinnato, president of the Hotel Association of New York City; David Hopkins, director of aviation at the New York City Economic Development Corp.; Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City; and Mitchell Moss, Henry Hart Rice professor of urban policy and planning at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.

Follow Kate Rice on Twitter @krtravelweekly.

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