It’s a deal hoping to keep both sides happy.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Helicopter Tourism and Jobs Council (HTJC) announced Sunday an agreement was reached to reduce the impact of tourism helicopters on New Yorkers — while also continuing to preserve the industry, which brings the city millions.
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Under the deal, tour operators are expected to reduce the number of flights to and from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport — operated by Saker Aviation — by 50 percent by January 2017. This decrease will result in about 30,000 flights being eliminated per year.
It was also agreed that flights will end on Sundays and will be prohibited over Governor’s Island.
“Today’s agreement is a triple win: it will help improve the quality of life of New Yorkers in waterfront communities, preserve an important tourism industry, and support a vital piece of our transportation infrastructure,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer.
The agreement came as a result of months of negotiations between the NYCEDC, HTJC and local elected officials.
The terms of the agreement state that beginning April 1, all tourist flight operations from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport will be prohibited on Sundays.
The heliport concessionaire will lower that total allowable number of flights from 2015 level by 20 percent starting June 1. By October 1 the number will be reduced by 40 percent, and will reach 50 percent by the beginning of 2017.Any flights that go over these numbers will force there to be more reduction in the tour flight levels.
Starting in July, tour operators will have to provide monthly written reports to the NYCEDC and City Council detailing the number of flight operations out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport compared to the agreed total. The report will also be required to include information on flights over land and which go away from the agreed routes over water. A third party will be present to verify reports periodically.
Operators are prohibited from flying over Governor’s Island and any which do will cause more reduction in allowable tour flight levels.
Any flights that pass over Staten Island — as they travel to and from their home bases outside of the city — will have to reach maximum altitude and work together with air control towers at Newark and LaGuardia airports.
According to the agreement, the heliport concessionaire is expected to set up a system to monitor air quality in the vicinity of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport and give monthly reports on the readings to the NYCEDC and City Council.
Lastly, the agreements states that research must be actively done to find available technologies, which further alleviate helicopter noise, reduce emissions and promote fuel efficiency. The implementation of these technologies will be expected once it becomes “commercially feasible.”
“The non-stop din of helicopters has been a major quality of life for New Yorkers living near heavily trafficked routes,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Today we’re addressing it. We’ve reached an agreement that will significantly cut down on the number of helicopter tours near residential areas and major parks, while keeping this part of our tourism sector active and viable. Everyone gave a little to get to this outcome, but the solution will mean a more livable city for everyone.”