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JFK Airport Terminal 4 upgrade breaks ground to fanfare

Airline officials and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (second from l.) break ground on the renovations at John F. Kennedy International Airport's Terminal 4. Photo by Ken Maldonado
By Anna Gustafson

The $1.2 billion project to completely renovate John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 4 will be a welcome economic boon for Queens that will create thousands of jobs, said Queens lawmakers and transportation officials who broke ground on the project last week.

“This puts people to work,” U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said of the major expansion. “The construction work is jobs and the related business that will come from this, that is jobs. When you’re talking about the unemployment in Jamaica, in Queens, this will help reduce that in our community.”

Delta Air Lines will move its international flights into Terminal 4 after the project’s expected completion date in 2016. The airline currently operates its international flights out of Terminal 3, which will be demolished. The project, slated to cost about $1.2 billion, is expected to add 10,000 jobs in the region by 2014, Delta officials said.

“The airport is in the community I represent, and the main thing is making sure it maintains a good relationship with our neighborhood,” said state Assemblywoman Michelle Titus (D-Far Rockaway). “That means giving to the community and making sure people are employed here.”

Approved by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in August, Terminal 4 will be renovated and expanded to handle about 15 million passengers annually. The project will add nine international gates, high-tech security equipment and an expanded U.S. Customers and Border Protection area to the terminal. There will be 25 gates once the project is completed, up from the 16 that are currently in the terminal.

After Terminal 3 is torn down, it will be turned into additional parking spaces for aircraft, alleviating congestion on the tarmac, according to the PA.

“Delta continues to make substantial investments in New York, and our terminal project at JFK is among the most significant,” Delta Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said. “Our new facility is designed to meet the needs of the world’s largest and most competitive aviation market with significant benefits to our customers, employees and the city of New York for decades to come.”

Alain Maca, president of JFK International, said the project is an “ambitious” plan that will “showcase Terminal 4 as a model of 21st-century air travel.”

Port Authority Director Chris Ward and Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni touted the project as one that will make significant economic contributions to Queens and the city.

“Through large and much-needed construction projects, we are able to continue to drive economic development in the region by creating both on-airport jobs and construction-related work,” Baroni said. “Projects like these not only benefit the travelers that pass through our doors, but also the communities that our facilities call home.”

Borough President Helen Marshall said she believes the project will make travel safer for passengers.

“When they build the new terminal, there will be many safety enhancements not there in the old terminal,” Marshall said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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