updated 12/6/2007 8:01:47 PM ET 2007-12-07T01:01:47

Remedies including express flight paths for congested routes could help ease the chronic flight delays that have turned the region's three major airports into a national headache, according to a report released Thursday.

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That suggestion was among 100 made by an aviation task force convened by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the beleaguered hubs — LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports.

The group, which has been meeting since the spring, especially recommended the express flight paths for the route from New York to Washington, D.C. It also suggested reconfiguring the airports' taxiways.

Twenty-seven of the task force's recommendations, including the express flight paths, could be implemented by next summer, with help from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Port Authority said.

None of the proposals is a blockbuster, but together they could be a big help, even if they allow an airport to squeeze through only six more flights an hour, said Anthony E. Shorris, Port Authority executive director.

During peak periods, the airports each now handle between 75 and 100 flights per hour.

The group comprised state officials, aviation experts and airline executives. Their work, however, could be overshadowed by another report due within days from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The department convened its own committee on New York-area flight delays this fall. In September, President Bush said something needed to be done quickly about flight delays in New York because they were disrupting the country's air travel network.

Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Turmail on Thursday said the Port Authority group had highlighted some good ideas for improving operations at the airport, including many the government has begun putting in place or will be done by the end of the fiscal year.

But he said capacity improvements alone might not be enough to handle an expected increase in flights next year.

Federal officials have suggested imposing a cap on the number of hourly flights at Kennedy by next summer if airlines don't voluntarily reduce their schedules.

Turmail said the department believes "market-based solutions" are needed to redistribute flights to less busy times of the day, including a scheme called congestion pricing, in which airlines would be charged more to land or depart during peak hours.

The Port Authority and the airlines vehemently oppose flight caps or congestion pricing, and neither was recommended in the report released Thursday.

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