One week after an electrical fire at JFK’s Terminal One caused chaos for international travelers for days, Gov. Kathy Hochul helped break ground on the new $4.2 billion Terminal 6 project, the final piece of the massive $18 billion project to transform the entire airport. The new state-of-the-art terminal will be the new permanent home for JetBlue, New York’s “hometown airline” that was key to keeping the carrier’s headquarters in Long Island City.
“New York remains committed to providing travelers with a premier experience that includes world-class amenities, expanded and streamlined airport transportation, and state-of-the-art security,” Hochul said. “The groundbreaking of Terminal 6 offers a complete vision for the modernized global gateway while adding 4,000 jobs to New York’s workforce. Congratulations to everyone who has dedicated years of hard work to making this historic milestone possible.”
She added that the Terminal 6 project would create 4,000 new jobs — 1,800 of them good-paying union construction jobs — and she praised Congressman Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who co-chaired the JFK community advisory board.
“This is a dream that has turned into reality and that is good for all. It will make a difference,” Meeks said. “It will make a difference in our community. It will make people in small businesses have an opportunity. It will put people to work. It will feed kids, it will create businesses that will feed people and other businesses like cleaning services and restaurants. The contracts are closed, the negotiations are over and it’s time to go to work.”
Shovels will hit the ground next week as construction gets underway. Richards recalled taking office at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and how the aviation sector has been key to the borough’s economic recovery.
”As you know, the aviation industry supports tens of thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in the economy right here in our borough,” Richards said. “When I took office, in the early days our unemployment rate was somewhere around 20% and I’m happy to say Queens unemployment rate has dipped to 4.8% as of November. This groundbreaking in Queens is truly leading the way into the future.”
Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton praised Richards and Meeks for their leadership during the arduous negotiations that ground to a halt during the pandemic.
“We stopped talking. We stopped negotiating. Without Congressman Meeks and without Borough President Donovan Richards, we would not be here today,” Cotton said. “ They were supportive in critical ways behind the scenes and in front of the scenes, demanding and speaking frankly, holding us to high standards and to their high expectations. They are true partners and true champions of their communities.”
Richards said the negotiations were imperative in keeping JetBlue in Queens after the airline considered moving its headquarters from Long Island City to Florida during the summer of 2021.
“It’s why we fought to keep JetBlue grounded in Queens, we wanted them to stay,” Richards said. “Any job is not a good enough job in our borough. Good jobs are good jobs. And that’s what we need in our borough.”
JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes thanked all of the elected officials in the crown who played a role in keeping the company in Queens and building its new home at JFK’s Terminal 6, before inviting them to take part in the ceremonial groundbreaking.
“The one thing that you don’t want to see in a hangar is dirt,” Hayes said. “I didn’t know there was gonna be dirt, so that was making me nervous. But it’s Queens dirt, we love it. We love Queens dirt.”