Press Release Article


Date: Jan 10, 2018
Press Release Number: 12-2018

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today announced that former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will lead an independent and comprehensive investigation into the events at JFK Airport during and following the winter storm of Thursday, January 4.

LaHood, who is currently a senior policy advisor at the global law firm DLA Piper, will assemble a team with independent resources and experts. He will examine all aspects of operations including but not limited to the performance of airlines, terminal operators and the Port Authority’s airport management. He will investigate all phases of the event. This will include the preparations and contingency planning leading up to the storm, the snow event itself including the closure and re-opening of the airport, all aspects of recovery operations in the days following the water leak that occurred on Sunday, January 7, and baggage handling. The investigation will include the operational aspects, communications and coordination among various parties, and customer impacts among other things.

Secretary LaHood will begin his investigation next week. He expects to issue his findings and recommendations in a report to the Port Authority in the coming months. He will report any interim findings and recommendations as the investigation progresses.

“The Port Authority is committed to providing the highest standard of service to all travelers, and the series of events following the winter storm this month were completely unacceptable,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “We are committed to understanding where and why failures occurred, and making whatever changes are necessary to assure these failures never happen again.”

“The Port Authority leadership has asked me to lead a comprehensive investigation into the recent events at JFK Airport, looking at every aspect of what went wrong and making recommendations about what must be fixed,” Secretary LaHood said. “I look forward to beginning my investigation.”

About Secretary LaHood

Secretary LaHood served as the 16th Department of Transportation Secretary from 2009 to 2013.

His tenure was marked by landmark efforts to improve safety in every mode of transportation, from aviation and rail to pipelines and automobiles. Under his leadership, improvements to America’s infrastructure included building or replacing 350,000 miles of highway, repairing 20,000 bridges and renewing or constructing 6,000 miles of rail track. As Secretary of Transportation, he oversaw an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget in charge of air, maritime and surface transportation.

Before heading the US Department of Transportation, Secretary LaHood served from 1995 to 2009 in the US House of Representatives on behalf of the 18th District of Illinois and also served on various House committees. He served as chief of staff to US House Minority Leader Robert Michel from 1982 to 1994. He was director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau from 1972 to 1974; chief planner of the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission from 1974 to 1977; and district administrative assistant for US Congressman Tom Railsback from 1977 to 1982.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit

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