The three major airports of the metropolitan area of New York, LaGuardia (LGA), Newark Liberty International (EWR), and John F Kennedy (JFK), jointly handle more than 120 million passengers annually, making New York among the top 5 air transport markets in the world. Traffic handled by the airports has experienced ongoing growth interrupted by periods of recession (1990-92, 2001-03, and 2008-10) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020-21). EWR and JFK cover an extensive array of international services, albeit EWR has a higher domestic orientation than JFK. LGA tends to cover almost exclusively domestic traffic but has links with Canada (mostly Montreal and Toronto) and the Caribbean, where airports have border pre-clearance facilities.
While LGA is the closest airport to Manhattan, it has limited room for expansion, and it cannot serviced by wide-body aircraft due to the limited length of its runways. Over a 20-year period, its traffic has remained relatively constant. However, in 2020, LGA undertook a massive renovation of its aging terminals, completed in 2022. The convenience offered by the new terminal facilities was a major factor in the fast recovery of its passenger traffic after the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart International Airport (SWF) is comparatively marginal, handling about half a million passengers annually. It is expected that SWF would capture additional traffic from the growth of air travel in the New York metropolitan area, but this expectation has so far remained unrealized.