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N.Y. airports celebrate 100 millionth passenger

Liang Chen, Mao Chen
Officials will welcome Liang Chen, left, of Taiwan and her husband Mao, right at John F. Kennedy airport in the Queens borough of New York Wednesday after arriving from Taipei, Taiwan. Liang Chen is the 100 millionth air traveler to use one of the metropolitan area's three major airports in 2006. Frank Franklin Ii / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Taiwanese woman who arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday was named the 100 millionth passenger of the year at the region’s three major airports.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports and other transit hubs in the region, said Liang Chen was the lucky 100 millionth traveler for Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports after taking a nonstop Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong.

In honor of the dizzying distinction, she was lavished with flowers and gifts including airline tickets, gift certificates, a Tiffany crystal apple, passes to city museums, cookbooks, tickets to Broadway shows, hotel accommodations and tickets to a New York Mets game.

The three major airports logged just under 100 million travelers last year. And they’re on track to handle 104 million by the end of 2006, an increase of more than 28 percent in just four years.

The new statistic caps a series of recent records for the three airports. Last year’s traffic set one, as did the more than 50.6 million passengers who trooped through in the first half of this year. Newark’s passenger count hit a new high of 34.2 million this weekend, surpassing a record set in 2000.

The passenger records are a measure of a rebound in air traffic since the airborne terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which spurred a sharp downturn in air travel and led to airline bankruptcies.