Agreement reached for massive world-class cargo facility at JFK

Rendering of the new, upcoming JFK cargo facility. (Photo courtesy of Port Authority)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced the signing of a long-term ground lease agreement with Aeroterm for the development of a state-of-the-art, $145 million cargo facility on more than 26 acres at JFK International Airport.

The first 350,000-square-foot cargo facility at JFK in more than two decades, the Aeroterm project represents a significant step forward in the JFK Vision Plan outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo, as part of the Port Authority strategy to bring 21st-century standards to cargo operations at all of its commercial airports.

“Throughout the pandemic, JFK has shown its importance and resilience as one of the nation’s most in-demand cargo centers,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “Governor Cuomo’s Vision Plan for JFK included strong support for cargo as a key piece of the redevelopment, and this project will create jobs, boost the local economy and produce a world-class cargo operation.”

The Aeroterm project will demolish two obsolete facilities at JFK and build an expanded, best-in-class facility that will incorporate advanced technology systems designed for maximum efficiency in the handling and storage of cargo, as well as a dedicated temperature-controlled area for handling pharmaceutical products.

The project anticipates the creation of 350 union construction jobs, and subcontracting opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises in professional services, construction, plumbing, mechanical and electrical work.

A new world-class cargo facility will rise at the north cargo area of JFK International Airport bringing jobs and investment to southeast Queens. (Photo courtesy of Port Authority)

More broadly, the cargo industry at JFK supports 73,000 total jobs, $12,5 billion in sales and nearly $4.4 billion in wages.

“As co-chair of the JFK Airport Redevelopment Advisory Council, I’ve seen firsthand the commitment for community inclusion and consideration of neighborhoods directly impacted by these projects,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “This is one of the many examples of the tremendous work the Port Authority has been doing. This new cargo facility will create new jobs as well as MWBE and local business contracting opportunities. This work is vital to an equitable recovery for southeast Queens.”

The Port Authority and Aeroterm are working closely with Worldwide Flight Services, the main cargo handler at JFK, which is slated to operate exclusively out of the new facility, working with more than 270 major airlines and airports globally in the cargo and ground-handling business.

In 2020, 1.2 million tons of cargo were processed at JFK, putting it among the top seven airports nationwide.

“Kennedy Airport is the gateway to our city and one of the largest economic generators in the entire region,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “By reimagining how we handle cargo at JFK, we’re investing in the long-term economic health of Queens and the city as a whole. Queens expects and deserves nothing less.”

Demolition of the existing facilities is scheduled to begin in September, with project completion expected by the end of 2023.

“This was a challenging process from start to finish, but all of the players came together in a manner and during a time that made this project an imperative to get Queens and JFK Airport back on track,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech said. “This project hit the high notes on all three key pieces of Governor Cuomo’s vision for JFK: cargo modernization, expanding opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprises and union labor employed by a world-class leader in facility-related services with Aeroterm.”

Scott Grimm-Lyon, the executive director of Gateway JFK applauded the agreement that will bring needed facilities to the airport’s north cargo area.

“We support the efforts to modernize and consolidate freight operations at the airport so local businesses can benefit from the increased volume of belly cargo that is expected when redevelopment of the passenger terminals is completed,” he said.

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