JetBlue Airways, the airline that brought low-fare, ticketless air travel to New Yorkers five years ago will be doubling its daily flights thanks to the construction of a new terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport.
JetBlue is teaming up with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the $875-million construction project, which will include a 26-gate, 635,000-square-foot passenger terminal on 72 acres. Plans also include a new 1,500-space parking garage and a bridge linking the terminal with the AirTrain.
The terminal will be connected with the landmarked TWA Flight Center located directly in front of it. The TWA terminal will also undergo restoration and renovation, although its future function is still undetermined.
A rendering of the JetBlue terminal was unveiled at the airport last Wednesday by Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall, designers, and officials from the Port Authority and JetBlue.
Officials praised the project for bringing continued economic growth to the airport and the surrounding city, as well as bringing better access to flights, particularly to upstate New York.
“The new state-of-the-art terminal, and increased service into and out of New York City, is the latest improvement to JFK, and will help secure the city’s position as the world’s greatest place to visit and do business,” Bloomberg said at the event.
The new terminal will allow JetBlue, the airport’s largest carrier, to double its current daily flights and accommodate twice the passsengers. JetBlue began flying out of JFK in 2000 with cheap one-way flights to Fort Lauderdale.
Since then, the airline has added 32 cities to the list and serves nearly 10 million passengers annually. The new terminal is designed to handle 20 million passengers a year.
JetBlue President Dave Bargar thanked the Port Authority, which is footing all but $80 million of the $875-million bill, for its dedication to the project. “We share a vision for the future that includes making air travel affordable for more people, and making the experience of travel pleasant again.”
JetBlue is also the airline that brought DirecTV to every seat.
Despite being ranked high among delay-prone airports, JFK has continued to experience an increase in air travel over the last few years. According to the Port Authority, passenger traffic increased by 20 percent between 2002 and 2004. Annual passenger traffic is expected to peak at 41 million this year.
A key component of the new terminal design was finding a way to blend it with the unique look of the TWA terminal.
The famed Trans World Terminal was built in 1962. With its literally uplifting design and purple-tinted glass, it has become an icon of modern architecture.
The terminal was designed by Eero Saarinen, who also designed the St. Louis arch, completed a year after his death. It was listed in 1994 on the city’s registry of historic places and added to the National Register in 2005.
The building was saved from partial demolition by the Port Authority during airport improvements in 2001. This newest deal marks the permanent preservation of the terminal as an integral part of the airport.
Passengers will pass into the JetBlue terminal from the historic terminal via the flight wing tubes that splay from its center.
The project also promised to find a new use for the terminal, in accordance with a deal brokered last year between the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration along with the New York State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
Restoration of the TWA terminal will happen concurrently with the new terminal’s construction. The 1962 building is unlikely to be restored as a passenger terminal due to its aeronautical and physical limitations.
Overall, this construction project is expected to bring an influx of new jobs to the area. JetBlue will add 2,500 workers to its 5,000-strong New York-based workforce and 1,200 jobs will be created for local construction workers.