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JFK’s long-delayed Terminal 6 to break ground early next year

How the terminal will look when complete in 2028 (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey)
Work on JFK Airport’s $4.2bn Terminal 6 will start early next year, New York State governor Kathy Hochul said yesterday.

The privately funded project will be the final piece of the airport’s $18bn rejuvenation plan and will turn it into “a 21st-century global gateway”, she said.

“JFK International – the nation’s door to the world – will soon be worthy of New Yorkers, providing an unparalleled passenger experience,” she added.

The terminal will be designed and built by US engineer Aecom Hunt. It had been set to break ground in 2020, but this was postponed after Covid-19 caused air traffic levels to plunge by as much as 98%.

The scheme will be jointly developed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and JFK Millennium Partners, a consortium that includes Vancouver-based developer Vantage Airport Group, New York real estate company RXR and JetBlue Airways, the airport’s largest carrier.

The consortium will develop the terminal in two phases, with the first gates opening in 2026 and project completion expected in 2028.

When fully complete, Terminal 6 will add more than 100,000 sq m and 10 gates to the airport, nine of which will be able to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

When the first phase is complete, the 60-year-old Terminal 7 will be demolished; before then, its tenant, British Airways, will decant to a modernised and expanded Terminal 8.

The design of the Terminal 6 will include floor-to-ceiling windows, public art by New York-based artists and “architectural elements depicting New York landmarks”.

On the operations side, there will be touchless technology at check-in to gates and “digital systems that will streamline the passenger journey throughout the terminal”.

Security systems will include biometric access control systems and a flexible design to accommodate future technology and regulatory changes.

The lion’s share of the development cost will be provided by the consortium, which will then lease the terminal until 2060.

For its part, Port Authority will commit $130m in funding for infrastructure improvement to the terminal’s air and land-side to improve the flow of passengers, traffic and logistics.  

In addition to JetBlue, the terminal will be occupied by Lufthansa Group, and there will be lounges for SWISS, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines.

JFK had a throughput of 60 million passengers before the pandemic. In 2019, it was ranked 86th out of 132 international airports for passenger experience by the AirHelp organisation.

Regular complaints include difficulties in navigating the airport’s six terminals, lack of parking space and long queueing times.

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