State plane of world leaders forced out of New York: UN week
- World leaders from around the world flew to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
- Their planes, however, were not allowed to stay at New York airports due to a long-standing rule.
- Boris Johnson took the Amtrak Acela from New York to Washington, DC while his plane was parked in Virginia.
New York City in September is a hot spot for world leaders as the United Nations holds its Annual General Assembly. Climate change is a key topic at this year’s conference, with leaders including President Joe Biden announcing additional investments in climate finance for developing countries.
But as leaders talk about commitments to climate change on the global stage, their government jets burn extra fuel as they fly empty to airports in the northeast just to park during the event.
New York’s JFK International Airport is the preferred gateway to the United Nations for many visiting countries due to its proximity to Manhattan. However, a long-standing New York and New Jersey Port Authority rule prohibits these planes from staying at JFK while their passengers are on their way to the UN.
Foreign military and state planes are not allowed to stay overnight at Port Authority airports due to traffic and space constraints, a spokesperson confirmed to Insider. After landing at an airport in the port, these planes have two hours to depart to another airport where they will park while in the United States.
Commercial airports under the port’s jurisdiction also include LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International.
New York Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York, about 60 miles north of the UN, is a popular parking space for foreign aircraft due to its large runway and availability of parking for large planes.
Flight tracking data shows that planes staying at Newburgh this year included a Turkish government Boeing Business Jet 747-8i, an Italian government Airbus A319 and a Biman Bangladesh Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, among others.
The planes will travel to Washington, DC, nearly 200 nautical miles south of New York City, just for a parking spot.
The closest airports to New York City, including Farmingdale Republic Airport and Long Island MacArthur Airport, are favorites for countries with smaller diplomatic planes. But larger planes, like a Boeing 747, cannot use them or other nearby airports such as Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and White Plains, Westchester County Airport in New York due track constraints.
Foreign governments and the military can request waivers of the rule outside of UN week, the port spokesman told Insider, and an airport’s general manager can grant it if traffic levels allow it. Newburgh is a port facility and exemptions are often granted due to the low traffic at the airport.
But during UN week, the aviation equivalent of tipping the valet extra to “keep him close” is considered bribery. Marlene Mizzi, former assistant airport supervisor at JFK, pleaded guilty in 2019 to accepting “benefits” for letting planes stay overnight during a General Assembly session.
Mizzi admitted to receiving “limousine rides, meals and free gifts” in exchange for letting a Qatar state plane stay overnight in 2014, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
How the rule causes headaches for U.S. hop-on hop-off tours
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the American high-speed Amtrak Acela train to visit the White House while in the United States. But Johnson’s plane also made the trip to the nation’s capital.
The British version of Air Force One flew from New York to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia after dropping Johnson off on September 19. If Johnson had chosen to fly between New York and Washington, his plane would have had to fly back to New York to pick it up, then head back to Virginia to park.
And after Johnson’s visit, the plane should have brought him back to New York, only to return to Virginia to park for the remainder of the Prime Minister’s visit to the UN, then fly back to New York for the flight home. in London.
A 2018 report by the International Council on Clean Transportation, an independent non-profit organization, found that aviation contributes 2.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Even with the industry working towards a greener future, empty repositioning flights are still incredibly common for all aircraft operated.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave New York’s skies a breather as the General Assembly went virtual in 2020. But despite fears of the Delta variant, this year’s in-person session continued and foreign leaders were willing to adopt “have a plane, will travel.”