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Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/JetBlue Airways
Photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/JetBlue Airways
Rendering of JetBlue's new international arrivals terminal at JFK.

Just four months after the project’s approval, JetBlue broke ground on its terminal expansion at JFK International Airport.

The renovations, which began October 1, will enlarge the airline’s Terminal 5, which opened in 2008. Three existing gates will be converted into international arrivals and three new ones will be added. Other additions to the terminal include an International Arrivals Hall with U.S. Custom and Border Protection, Federal Inspection Services (FIS) and two new baggage claim belts.

When the renovations are completed in early 2015, they “will make all domestic and international operations seamless and convenient for our customers and consolidate our flight operations under one roof,” said JetBlue president and CEO Dave Barger

Currently, Terminal 5 only serves domestic flights and some outgoing Caribbean flights. Since the airline began international service from JFK in 2004, all its flights coming in from outside the U.S. have used Terminal 4 so passengers can go through customs.

The expansion is no surprise as JetBlue, which is based at JFK, is the airport’s largest domestic carrier and one of its largest airlines overall, handling 10.5 million passengers last year through Terminal 5.

The airline also carried more than two million international travelers in 2011.

Investing more than $200 million in the expansion, JetBlue’s improved terminal will be able to handle the airline’s growing number of Caribbean and Latin America destinations.

Along with convenience, the newly designed terminal will also be eco-friendly, from its materials to its aesthetics, including reclaimed concrete and low flow water fixtures.

The renovations will also enhance the already bright terminal with glass walls, letting in natural light.

“It’s fair to say that by the time it’s done, hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women will see work because JetBlue and the Port Authority are building this new terminal,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who was at the ground breaking ceremony. “As a councilmember who represents JetBlue’s headquarters,” he added, “I am thrilled that we have an airline that is based in Queens; that is expanding, creating jobs, good jobs.”

The only commercial passenger airline with its headquarters in New York State, JetBlue is already contributing to the Queens economy with its Long Island City corporate offices.

According to the Port Authority, the expansion is expected to bring an additional 1,090 jobs, $74 million in wages and $325 million in economic activity.

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