Port Authority Board of Commissioners Approves New Post-COVID Deal For a Brand New $3.9 Billion Terminal 6 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
The Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today approved a public private-partnership agreement with JFK Millennium Partners – including JetBlue Airways — to build a new $3.9 billion state-of-the-art Terminal 6 at JFK International Airport. The new terminal, which will connect to JetBlue’s Terminal 5, will create an anchor on the north side of the airport. Originally set to break ground in 2020, the project was threatened by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel and the uncertain future of the industry. The restructured deal approved today marks a significant step forward in the plan to transform JFK into a unified 21 century global gateway. All of the $3.9 billion cost to build the new terminal will be privately financed by JMP. This private investment is a testament to the partners’ commitment to the future of JFK and New York.
The Board resolution passed today both approves the terms of the agreement with the private consortium that will build the new global standard, 21st century terminal and also authorizes $130 million in Port Authority capital funding to build enabling infrastructure for the new Terminal 6 project, including airside improvements, and utility enhancements such as electrical support for the project. This Port Authority capital commitment is part of the agency’s previously allocated capital to the redevelopment of JFK. Construction of the new Terminal 6 will break ground in 2022.
The agreement to move forward with Terminal 6 comes as JetBlue has further reinforced its commitment to New York with this week’s announcement that the airline’s headquarters will remain in Long Island City, Queens after mulling a departure out of state.
With today’s Board approval, the Port Authority will finalize and enter into a lease agreement with JMP for the construction of the $3.9 billion, 1.2 million square foot new terminal. The full $3.9 billion expense of building the terminal will be privately financed by the JFK Millennium Partners consortium. It will be built on the sites of the former Terminal 6, which was demolished in 2011, and the aging Terminal 7, which will be torn down after British Airways relocates to Terminal 8.
“The action taken today by the Board of Commissioners, coupled with the extraordinary private investment pledged to build Terminal 6 at JFK Airport, loudly proclaims the confidence the private sector has in the future of JFK Airport and of our region. At the height of the pandemic, when JFK Airport was seeing an unthinkable two percent of its pre-Covid passenger volumes, we never lost sight of finding a path forward for this world-class terminal. We thank the dedicated Port Authority team and our private partners for their intense work and commitment to turn JFK Airport into the modern global gateway that New York and the region deserve.”
The new terminal will connect to Terminal 5 and be equipped with capacity for ten new gates, as well as bright and airy check-in halls and arrival spaces designed to enhance the customer experience. Customers will enjoy more than 100,000 square feet of commercial dining and retail amenities, lounges, and recreational spaces. The new terminal will also incorporate the latest advances in both sustainability and security, reflecting the Port Authority’s and the partners’ commitment to customer experience, operational excellence, and a uniquely New York sense of place. Construction of the new terminal is scheduled to begin in mid-2022 and the first new gates are scheduled to open in 2025.
The agreement to move forward with a new Terminal 6 follows Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement in October 2018 of the Port Authority entering into exclusive negotiations for the development of two major new international terminals, one each on the airport’s north and south sides, that would lead the transformation of JFK and increase the airport’s capacity by at least 15 million passengers a year annually to accommodate projected growth in the decades ahead. The start of these public-private partnerships were delayed and threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic’s severe impact on air travel. Passenger volumes at JFK declined by as much as 98 percent during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and have only recently increased to levels that still remain 25-30 percent down from pre-pandemic figures. The uncertain timing of air travel’s recovery has made the ability of private investors to finance the project more challenging. The revised agreement approved today reflects a significant vote of confidence by the private sector in the future of JFK Airport and its importance to both New York and the global travel industry. The City of New York’s ten-year emergency extension of the master lease for JFK Airport, which had been set to expire in 2050, was critical to the restructuring of the deal with JMP. That extension enabled the Port Authority to add 10 years to the JMP lease term, providing the investors with sufficient time after the new terminal opens to recover their multi-billion-dollar investment.
“This Board vote to move forward with a new Terminal 6 at John F. Kennedy International Airport demonstrates the commitment of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to deliver for our region through some of the most difficult times in our agency's 100-year history. Moving forward with a new Terminal 6 will create thousands of good-paying construction jobs critical to our recovery from the pandemic, while building the foundation of economic growth for decades to come.”
At JFK, the development of Terminal 6 is expected to result in over 4,000 direct jobs and direct payroll wages of $1.9 billion. The total economic activity impact from the project, including indirect effects such as the local market participation of employees of suppliers, amounts to nearly $2.8 billion in total wages and $6.3 billion in total economic activity.
JMP is a private consortium comprised of JetBlue Airways, New York’s Hometown Airline® and one of the largest carriers operating at JFK; Vantage Airport Group, an industry leading investor, developer and manager of award-winning global airport projects, including as a member of the consortium that built LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B; American Triple I (ATI), a 100 percent minority- and woman-owned investor, owner, developer, and manager of infrastructure assets and infrastructure focused companies that seek to spur economic growth and development in markets across the U.S.; and RXR Realty, a leading New York-based real estate operating and development company. ATI’s investment is notable not only in that continues the state’s trend of MWBE firms creating wealth by investing in such a major public-private partnership (beyond the provision of goods and services), but doing so at the 30 percent level, which is both historic and nation-leading.
The passenger facilities at the new Terminal 6 will feature significantly larger waiting areas with high ceilings, natural light and modern architecture coupled with interior green space, exhibits and art featuring iconic New York landmarks and local artists. World-class retail, restaurants and bars will include locally-based restaurateurs, craft beverage options and Taste NY stores. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi and an abundance of charging stations throughout the terminals will enable passengers to stay connected at each step of their journey.
Additional state-of-the-art technology will further improve the customer experience and security in the new terminal and will include elements such as touchless passenger journey, digital systems to streamline the boarding experience and passenger journey throughout the airport, automated TSA security lanes, advanced video search analytics, biometric-based access control systems and a flexible design to accommodate future technology and/or regulatory changes.
Sustainability enhancements will include various carbon emissions reductions through the use of renewable energy technologies such as a solar hot water system, aircraft de-icing and fluid recovery, and electric ground service equipment such as baggage tractors and belt loaders.
The new Terminal 6 will connect to and be seamlessly integrated with the existing T5, including the eventual consolidation of international arrivals facilities. A convenient taxi plaza as well as designated for-hire vehicle pick-up areas with T5. These changes will not only create a world-class experience for the new Terminal 6 passengers but will also substantially reduce traffic congestion on the T5 road frontage.
The Governor’s JFK Vision Plan, initially unveiled in January 2017 and based on the recommendations from the Governor’s Airport Advisory Panel, calls for an overhaul of the airport’s hodgepodge of eight disparate terminal sites into one unified JFK Airport by demolishing old terminals, utilizing vacant space, and modernizing on-airport infrastructure, while incorporating the latest in passenger amenities and technological innovations. The Vision Plan also calls for increasing the number and size of gates, improving parking availability, an array of airside taxiway improvements to allow for more efficient planes and reduced gate congestion, upgrading the AirTrain JFK system to handle increased passenger capacity, and enhanced roadways on and off the airport. This includes better access to JFK from regional roadways, particularly the Van Wyck Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway, including the Kew Gardens Interchange.
Plans for the new Terminal 6 build on the momentum of major components of the airport’s transformation, including the $1.5 billion expansion of Terminal 4, led by Delta and JFK International Air Terminal, which was approved by the Port Authority’s Board in April. Additionally, work began in December 2019 on the $344 million expansion of JFK’s Terminal 8, led by American Airlines, which operates the terminal, and British Airways, which will be relocating to Terminal 8 from Terminal 7, set to be demolished to make way for the new Terminal 6.
In 2018, Governor Cuomo announced the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council. It is co-chaired by U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and composed of elected officials and leaders of community boards, business and nonprofit organizations, civic organizations, and the clergy from the local communities surrounding JFK Airport, including Southeast Queens, Southwest Queens, the Rockaways, and western portions of Nassau County. Since its inception, the Council has been working with the Port Authority to expand community outreach efforts and develop community-focused programs, ensuring that this ambitious project solicits ongoing feedback from local stakeholders and provides meaningful opportunities for local businesses, MWBEs, students, and jobseekers.
This includes programming to advance the Governor’s nation-leading commitment to a 30 percent Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) contracting goal in all categories of work, and a special focus on opportunities for local businesses across all aspects of the JFK Redevelopment program, including the Terminal 6 project, which will be built by union labor under a full Project Labor Agreement. Other community development initiatives prioritized by the Council focus on job opportunities and workforce development programs for local residents, small business outreach and development, and educational programming for local students.
The JFK Redevelopment Community Information Center opened in Jamaica, Queens in early 2019, providing easier access for firms looking for business opportunities, local residents in search of jobs, or neighbors seeking more information about the project.
This article was originally published by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
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