Reimagined JFK Airport begins $13 billion redevelopment project

Reimagined JFK Airport begins $13 billion redevelopment project
Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton congratulates Terminal One’s Arthur Molins of Lufthansa, one of four partners in the the Terminal Consortium, for its $7 billion dollar winning investment contract.
Photo by Jeff Yapalater

Governor Cuomo and the Port Authority of NYNJ (PORT) revealed that two airport terminal operators submitted and were given the go ahead to inject $10 billion of the $13 billion for the JFK Airport Redevelopment project. After months of waiting for the winning announcements, Port said that the proposals given by Terminal One Group (TOGA) and JetBlue Terminal 5 were best suited for this first phase of the huge project which creates two anchor mega-terminals at the South and North ends of the current airport. These plans to redevelop JFK came after the Governor announced a $10 billion Vision Plan for JFK in January 2017. Since then the progress has been fast and intensive with a basic envision of design, specific proposals for the future airport, community meetings and plans in place to begin to put flesh on the bones in the next steps to a reality of the new “reimagined JFK”.

Cuomo, at the exclusive breakfast meeting in Manhattan, enthusiastically made public the details and brief timeline of how the process would work. The presentation was attended by several members of the Port Authority who included the Port Executive Director Rick Cotton, Aviation Director Huntley Lawrence, and Port project manager, government affairs director, minority affairs director, KFK terminal operators as well as potential investors from all the terminals interested in the project. Several other Port people who have been making the community meeting forums over the past couple of months were also on hand to demonstrate the Port’s plans to include a commitment to the Governor’s nation-leading goal of 30 percent utilization of MWBEs, which applies to contracts as well as financing interests.

Port Executive Director Rick Cotton congratulated Arthur Molins, who represents the Terminal One Group (TOGA) at JFK Airport, for the selection of TOGA and its investors for the redevelopment of Terminals 1, 2 and part of 3. This approval for TOGA, which is comprised of airlines Lufthansa, JAL, Korean Air and Air France, is a $7 billion dollar investment by the TOGA group and a consortium of investors in the terminal rebuild. Also selected for the south end terminal develoment was JetBlue, represented by CEO Robin Hayes and CFO Steve Priest, for a $3 billion terminal rebuild and expansion investment. “Excitement” was the word used by both terminal executives after the announcement by Cotton and Governor Cuomo. According to one executive, this is a major step in the Governor’s Vision Plan for the future of JFK. According to Port, more is to come. An additional $3 billion will come from private investors and the Port all currently totaling $13 billion for the JFK transformation.

Community response

Airline executives and community leaders lauded the announcement. Arthur Molins, Managing Director of TOGA, said, “We are extremely grateful for the support of the Governor and Port Authority as we partner with them to return JFK Airport to world-class status. We look forward to bringing this vision to reality.”

Robin Hayes, JetBlue Chief Executive Officer said, “As New York’s Hometown Airline (TM), JetBlue has been doing its part to transform JFK Airport since our first flight 18 years ago. Building on the success of JetBlue’s award-winning JFK Terminal 5, we look forward to creating a more unified world-class airport experience across Terminals 5, 6 and 7 and achieving Governor Cuomo’s vision for a transformed experience at JFK.”

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, “Today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo is a welcome development that speaks to his administration’s leadership. The transformation of JFK into a state-of-the-art international airport for the 21st century is closer than we can imagine, and will be inclusive in ways that are crucial to the success of the project and the advancement of the community. This massive project will create regional job growth, especially in Southeast Queens and surrounding communities, as well as new business ventures for qualified MWBEs.”

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, “The $13 billion overhaul of John F. Kennedy will be instrumental in assuring continued economic growth and development across Queens. A project of this magnitude will bring many opportunities to the community of Southeast Queens, as well as encouraging additional investment from the state.”

These committed investments advance the Governor’s vision for a unified and interconnected airport system with best-in-class passenger amenities, centralized ground transportation options and vastly improved roadways that collectively will increase the airport’s capacity by at least 15 million passengers a year. The overall plan includes a central terminal for JFK with an RFI to go out asking for proposals on design and developments costs.

However, this is an initial announcement of intention. Public details are scant as to the exact proposals and why the other contenders,from JFKIAT and Delta, were not considered as part of the scope of the proposal package. According to Roel Huinink, JFKIAT’s chief executive, “the company looks forward to a continued partnership” with the Port Authority.

However the loss of this business must be a difficult but hopefully the notification that a new centralized terminal that was unveiled at the announcement would be another opportunity for the JFKIAT, a Schipol company, and Delta to become more involved with the overall JFK redevelopment.

Congressman Meeks said, “This massive project will create regional job growth, especially in Southeast Queens and surrounding communities, as well as new business ventures for qualified MWBEs.”

Next steps

The Next steps include preliminary environmental studies, subcontractor selections, MWBE initiatives, and architectural designs need to be reviewed, and signed off by the Port Authority.

Actual work is expected to begin sometime in 2021 and the work at LaGuardia reaches its completion if all goes according to schedule.

This announcement came just days after the Port Authority approved a minimum wage increase for all airport workers. So, the timing to raise wages and the announcement of the project selection work together to bring a sense of

purpose and initiative for both worker and investor as the beginning of development can been seen in the coming months.

Included in the Port public part of the JFK redevelopment includes the repair and expansion of the Van Wyck Expressway from Main Street to the Airport, making infrastructure a big part of the growth. Progress with the NYC DOT is already in the works.

With 66 million passengers passing through JFK International Airport in 2018, the improvements at one of the world’s greatest airports will be welcomed by many.

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