The 78th U.N. General Assembly is held in New York City at the moment, and world leaders are once again traveling there for attendance, with most of them flying their own government aircraft rather than using commercial service.
With that many planes, it’s clear that one thing isn’t going to work out very well and that’s parking space at New York’s notoriously congested airports, so where are the world’s leaders going to park their aircraft this week?
I always found this question very interesting and thought about it years ago but this week, an old article caught my attention that outlined how pilots of these delegations often have to land in New York, drop off their passengers, and then fly sometimes hundreds of miles away to another airport where they have secured a parking spot for a couple of days.
This Business Insider article from 2021 outlines where some of the jets end up during the annual meeting.
… While leaders talk about commitments to climate change on the world stage, their government planes are burning extra jet fuel by flying empty to airports across the Northeast just to park during the event.
New York’s JFK International Airport is the preferred gateway to the UN for many visiting countries due to its proximity to Manhattan. A long-standing rule of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, however, restricts those aircraft from staying at JFK while their passengers head to the UN.
Foreign military and state aircraft are barred from staying at Port Authority airports overnight due to traffic and space constraints, a spokesperson confirmed to Insider. After they’ve landed at a Port airport, those aircraft have two hours to depart for another airport where they’ll park while in the US.
Commercial airports under the Port’s purview also include LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International.
New York Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York, around 60 miles north of the UN, is a popular parking spot for foreign aircraft given its large runway and parking availability for large aircraft.
Flight tracking data shows that aircraft staying in Newburgh this year included a Boeing Business Jet 747-8i of the Turkish government, Airbus A319 of the Italian government, and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, among many others.
Aircraft will travel as far as Washington, DC, nearly 200 nautical miles south of New York, just for a parking spot.
Airports closer to New York, including Farmingdale Republic Airport and Long Island MacArthur Airport are favorites of countries with smaller diplomatic aircraft. But larger aircraft, such as a Boeing 747, cannot use them or other nearby airports such as New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport and White Plains, New York’s Westchester County Airport due to runway constraints. …
The article then outlines a rather interesting itinerary of former British PM Boris Johnson back in the day:
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to America’s high-speed Amtrak Acela train to visit the White House while in the US. But Johnson’s plane also made the trip to the nation’s capital.
The UK version of Air Force One flew from New York to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia after dropping off Johnson on September 19. Had Johnson chose to fly between New York and Washington, his plane would have had to fly back to New York to pick him up, then fly back to Virginia to park.
And after Johnson’s visit, the plane would have had to fly him back to New York, only to fly back to Virginia to park for the rest of the prime minister’s UN visit, and then fly back to New York for the return flight to London.
A lot of logistics for a trip between NYC and Washington DC, taking the train was the easiest for Johnson and his entourage (including security detail) but that doesn’t mean the aircraft can be idle. It’s pretty common for delegations to also meet their U.S. liaisons in Washington during the UNGA since it saves them an extra trip sometime down the road.
As it’s well documented, the arrangements for the U.S. President are even more elaborate for out-of-town travel, though for NYC the President usually takes the Marine One Helicopter.
A report popped up in Thai Media that the new PM took a Thai Airways B787 Dreamliner to the U.S. which really surprised me as the seating is anything but comfortable (especially for a tall and broad guy like the new PM). The TG Dreamliner has no First Class configuration and only 2-2-2 in the pretty bad Business Class that was installed on it.
You can follow the plane on FlightAware, it’s about to land as I’m writing this article.
Let’s see where this Dreamliner will eventually end up being parked!?
Government / diplomatic flights are not subject to restrictions regular commercial carriers face when trying to file for a new route to the U.S. so that’s why you suddenly see a Thai Airways flight back in the U.S. which would otherwise not be possible at the moment.
World leaders need to find an alternative parking space in a city far away from New York this week as they visit the U.S. General Assembly. This is often a logistical puzzle as airports up and down the coast are packed with aircraft and those in NYC are already at capacity.
There might be some countries that also receive clearance for priority due to security reasons and be allowed to remain in NYC. In the past, the Saudi jet was definitely parked there, not surprising considering they own a good chunk of the whole U.S. Economy.