By Courtney Dentch
Passengers entering the redesigned British Airways terminal at Kennedy Airport may feel like they are walking into a nightclub as they see the moving light show and the digital video displays that greet them – and that is just what the airline wanted.
The facility, the airport's Terminal 7, was unveiled at a grand opening celebration Tuesday after a five-year $250-million redevelopment project to incorporate a modern, inviting look with enhanced retail, restaurant and lounge spaces, airline officials said.
“We wanted to make it unlike any other airline terminal,” said David Erich, general manager of Gatwick Airport in London and former senior vice president of the company's North American markets. “We wanted to have something entirely different. We wanted to make it a celebration. That's the theme of this terminal.”
The new design uses glass and metal to allow natural light into the building and to create a modern look. Colorful light shows and video projections of elements in nature follow passengers through the terminal, Erich said.
“You're stimulated by lights, sounds, video, or colors from the minute you walk in the door until the minute you board the airplane,” he said.
The project added 20 percent new space to the old terminal structure, bringing the facility to 535,000 square feet. The terminal has 12 gates, and 100 check-in positions to serve the 2.8 million departing passengers that use the airline each year, an airline spokesman said. A total of 3.6 million passengers are expected to arrive and depart from the terminal annually, the spokesman said.
“With today's newly unveiled redevelopment and state-of-the-art design at JFK's Terminal 7, British Airways marks an extraordinary commitment to the greater New York community and a significant investment in the future of air travel of both sides of the Atlantic,” said Lord Colin Marshall, Chairman of British Airways. “The terminal is dedicated to the most important people in the business – our customers. We are dedicated to making their experience on the ground as pleasant and uplifting as possible.”
The project was a cooperative effort between the airline, which paid for the bulk of the project, and the Port Authority, which contributed at least $43 million to renovate the roadways and a parking garage, Marshall said.
“British Airways has demonstrated a commitment to our borough with the completion of this terminal and by the reinvestment,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting. “This kind of investment in the borough is so encouraging.”
The terminal has already earned five awards for the new design in the annual Airport Revenue News magazine's contest honoring concession services at American airports. Kennedy's Terminal 7 won first place for most innovative services, and prizes for best concession program, best redeveloped concession program, best concession management, and best overall concession program.
“Our goal was to bring the level of service on the ground up to the level of service in the air,” Erich said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.