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Queens Chronicle

New JetBlue Hub Approved By Historic Preservationists, FAA

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Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2004 12:00 am

The Port Authority has signed off on JetBlue Airways’ plan to build a new terminal at Kennedy Airport, incorporating the famous gull-shaped building of the currently dormant Terminal 5.

The airline agreed in October to use the historic terminal as a check-in port and to renovate portions which will be used as an arrival and departure area. The terminal, built at the height of the jet age in the 1960s and designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen, is too small to accommodate today’s jumbo jets. The new structure will be built adjacent to the building.

The new 640,000-square-foot terminal will have 26 gates, 1,500 parking spaces, a connecting bridge to the AirTrain and will cost $875 million. There will also be pedestrian tubes installed for passengers to move between the entrance of the former TWA Terminal and the new terminal.

Construction on the project is expected to begin next year. JetBlue Airways, the Forest Hills-based airline that is the second-busiest carrier at JFK, will have a 34-year lease on the terminal.

The new agreement represents a victory for preservationists, who have long stressed that the unique Terminal 5 building must be preserved. The Federal Aviation Administration, New York State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation signed off on the new deal.

“We’re proud to support this new project, which will bring a new state-of-the-art terminal to JFK and preserve Eero Saarinen’s historic building so that generations to come can marvel at this architectural masterpiece,” Governor George Pataki said.

The Port Authority struggled in recent years to find an “adaptive reuse” for Terminal 5 after TWA filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, leaving it without a tenant. Over 40 firms expressed interest in taking it over, and JetBlue was awarded the potential contract in October.

The new facility will be the main entry and exit point for most JetBlue flights. The airline has pledged to triple the number of flights there by 2010.

“The world has just one icon that truly epitomizes both New York City and the excitement of aviation and that’s Terminal 5,” JetBlue Chairman and CEO David Neeleman said. “This is an exciting day for JetBlue’s more than 7,000 crewmembers as we marry our industry’s rich history with our own aspirations for the future.”

JetBlue broke ground on a new $45-million, 100,000-square-foot hangar complex last summer. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

Terminal 5 will open briefly in October for an art exhibit entitled “Terminal Five.” The exhibit will feature pieces from artists around the world dedicated to the historic terminal, which is a city landmark.

Peg Breen, the president of the New York City Landmarks Conservancy, last year called Terminal 5 “the most romantic view of flight that’s ever been created. There has always been the issue of what to do with this building and JetBlue has said, ‘Let’s get going.’

Bust In Duty-Free Theft Scheme

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced the arrest of five JFK cargo handlers last Wednesday for stealing thousands of dollars worth of miniature liquor bottles and duty-free items.

The five defendants—three of them from Jamaica, Queens—are accused of stealing hundreds of miniature bottles of premium scotch, rum and cognac from a SkyChef storage warehouse at the airport. They also allegedly pilfered jewelry, watches, perfume and pens. The total value of the stolen items is about $20,000, Brown said. The defendants allegedly sold the items on the black market.

The arrested individuals were identified as Carlos DeLeon, Juan Sanchez and Joseph Talley of Jamaica; Mahadeo Sookhiram of Massapequa, and Lorenza Jacobsen of Bethpage. They face charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny.

DeLeon, Sanchez and Talley each face up to seven years in prison. Sookhiram faces up to four years behind bars and Jacobsen faces one year in jail.

“Employee pilferage deprives our city and state governments of much-needed tax revenues. In the last analysis, it is the consuming public that bears the burden of thefts such as those that are alleged to have occurred in this case,” Brown said.

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