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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $13 billion overhaul project for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

The ambitious construction project will build brand new terminals, include new ground transportation access points and incorporate improved passenger waiting areas and accessibility for disabled and elderly travelers, said Rick Cotton, executive director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, during a presentation of the plan Thursday.

The highlight of the overhaul is two new terminals — south terminal and north terminal — funded by airlines that fly out of JFK. JetBlue has been approved to build a new north international terminal adjacent to its existing location in JFK’s Terminal 5. Also approved is a “dramatically expanded” international south terminal, funded by Terminal One Group, a joint effort of that terminal’s residents: Air France, Korean Airlines, Japan Airlines and Lufthansa.

JFK’s eight terminals, which Cotton called a “disconnected hodgepodge,” will be replaced by a more centralized main hub, with the two new terminals replacing three of the outdated buildings, which will be razed.

The new terminals will feature interior green spaces, exhibits by local artists and “made-for-Instagram” photo-op areas. Additionally, Cotton said the new spaces will feature more accessibility areas for travelers with disabilities and the elderly, though the presentation was light on the details for this aspect. “State-of-the-art” security features will be incorporated to the new terminals, like facial recognition, biometrics, radiation detection and “next generation” identification of suspicious objects and packages.


The Port Authority will also work with local lawmakers to “streamline” traffic patterns into and out of the airport and make the surrounding roads less choked with cars — the plans also call for a redesign of JFK’s roadway entrances and exits to make them more attractive, rather than the current “jumble, which assaults the senses,” Cotton said.

Along with the new terminals, the number of gates and taxiway space will be increased to handle arrivals and departures from larger and more fuel efficient planes to help increase the airport’s passenger capacity.

Conspicuously missing from the project’s overview were plans for adding additional runways — an aspect that airport planners have said would be crucial to accommodating the growing number of passengers in coming years, the Wall Street Journal reports. Cotton told WSJ that JFK’s current four runways were sufficient to handle the airport’s projected growth through 2035, when Cotton says 80 million passengers will pass through its doors.

In 2018, 60 million passengers passed through JFK. Cotton predicted that the overhaul will increase that capacity by an additional 15 million flyers per year, up to 75 million by 2030.

Newly-built parts of the project will start opening in 2023, with the entire plan slated to be done in 2025. Cotton, of the Port Authority, said that the airport will maintain a full operation schedule during construction, noting the building would follow a “hopscotch” pattern — similar to LaGuardia Airport’s current construction — tearing down and rebuilding different structures one at a time.

The majority of the project is funded by private capital, with $12 billion coming from outside investors, and the remaining $1 billion from the Port Authority Capital Plan.

Featured image of an existing JFK terminal by sansara / Getty Images.

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