JFK Redevelopment Project Notches A Quantum Leap - Business Travel News

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JFK Redevelopment Project Notches A Quantum Leap

September 06, 1999 - 12:00 AM ET


JFK Redevelopment Project Notches A Quantum Leap

By Frank Rosci

A $1 billion-plus American Airlines' and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey improvement project at JFK International Airport, part of a reinvestment program that totals a staggering $9.3 billion at the airport, will give business travel and customer service a mighty boost.

A major part of the redevelopment project, which was approved unanimously by the Port Authority's board of commissioners, comes from airline executives who reason that if they can keep passengers loyal through improvements such as terminals, aircraft and service, then they also can expect those changes to garner greater numbers of high-paying first- and business-class passengers.

That's the line of thinking behind the work at JFK, which includes plans by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways to rebuild terminal space and a new AA terminal, which will serve as the cornerstone of the overall reinvestment program.

The new four-level terminal will be the largest at JFK when completed in 2006 and will be capable of handling 40 million passengers a year by 2040. It is destined to replace existing American Terminals 8 and 9, which handled 10 million passengers in 1998. It will feature a complex of three dozen retail shops and a checkin area large enough to hold the 79,469-seat Giants Stadium.

In addition to its three concourses, capable of accommodating 40,000 passengers daily and more than 14 million a year, the new American terminal will have customs and immigration facilities capable of accommodating 2,400 passengers per hour. There also will be 220 checkin counters and 20 curbside checkin positions.

Overall traffic at JFK has held at about 31 million passengers for the better part of the past 10 years. More passengers--17.7 million--flew internationally from JFK than from any other U.S. airport last year.

It is expected that the overall airport redevelopment will double American's gates, from 23 to 59. As one of the largest airlines at JFK, the expansion will give American 41 jet gates and 18 new enclosed gates for American Eagle, an American spokesman said.

"Last year, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France and Korean Airlines opened the first new terminal at JFK (a $435 million renovation of Terminal 1) in more than 25 years," said Robert Boyle, Port Authority executive director.

Currently, British Airways is continuing its $220 million renovation of Terminal 7, the $1.2 billion rebuilding of Terminal 4 will be ready by 2001 and yet another new terminal is in the planning stages, Boyle said. "In addition, roadways have been rebuilt and a new rail line has been approved recently that would link JFK to the Long Island Rail Road, subway and bus lines."

The new $1.5-billion rail line, dubbed AirTrain, would transport passengers from midtown Manhattan to JFK Airport. While hailed generally as an about-time idea that would encourage travelers to use public transportation to the airport, there are critics who say the plan is flawed because its high price tag wouldn't come with a one-seat ride, but would require passengers to transfer trains once.

New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani, who was opposed initially to the idea because it didn't offer a one-seat ride, softened his stance when the State of New York agreed to contribute $100 million toward construction of a separate rail link from Manhattan to La uardia Airport. Plans at JFK are for a three-mile-long light rail system from the Long Island Rail Road's Jamaica Station, a hub for the railroad, three subway lines and scores of bus routes, directly to the airport, with stops at all of the airport's terminals. However before any of this happens a partially built rail tunnel under the East River from East 63rd Street to Queens would have to be completed.

AirTrain would run along elevated track over the Van Wyck Expressway, while a second line would connect the airport to the A train stop in Howard Beach, Queens, and to long-term airport parking. A number of residents along the Van Wyck said they aren't looking forward to years of construction and probable traffic nightmares.

The train ride from New York's Penn Station to JFK Airport would take 45 minutes, instead of the two-plus hours it now can take. Port Authority officials anticipate a fare of $5. Funding for AirTrain would come from a $3 per-ticket charge, already levied on every ticket sold for JFK flights.
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