Airlines rise to $13 billion heights in JFK terminal plan

All American: And a little British Airways, too, but it's the airlines -- not the Port Authority of NY and NJ -- that will foot the bill for a $13 billion terminal-renovation effort at JFK International.

Two global air-travel stalwarts are doubling down on John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Texas-based American Airlines and London-based British Airways will invest a combined $344 million in expansion and customer-focused improvements at the international travel hub, which ranks as the world’s 22nd busiest, the nation’s sixth busiest and the metropolitan area’s single-busiest airport.

Marking a big forward step for his comprehensive, $13 billion modernization strategy for the Queens airport, Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted a new “customer experience” coming to Terminal 8, with renovation work performed under an agreement between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – which operates New York City-owned JFK International – and American Airlines.

The project – which will add more than 70,000 square feet to Terminal 8, including 33,000 square feet of new public space – also prepares the terminal for a new arrival: British Airways, on approach from Terminal 7, which is being replaced as part of JetBlue Airways’ plans for a new terminal on the airport’s north side.

Andrew Cuomo: Straighten up and fly right.

No Port Authority funding is being committed to the Terminal 8 upgrades, according to the governor’s office, which trumpeted significant advances on Cuomo’s multi-year modernization plan, which targets 4 million new square feet of terminal space and capacity for an additional 15 million annual passengers.

Noting an “extraordinary private investment” from the two airlines, the governor tied the Terminal 8 announcement into his larger designs for modernized airports around New York State.

“Only four months ago, we announced plans to transform JFK Airport into a state-of-the-art global hub,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “Today, that transformation is well underway.

“This new investment is part and parcel with the state’s broader efforts to modernize airports all across New York,” the governor added. “We are making historic progress rebuilding our airport infrastructure for the future and ensuring New York State remains the nation’s front door.”

In addition to hosting the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition and hitting the gas on a $4 billion renovation of LaGuardia Airport, Albany has announced several state-supported upgrades at Long Island regional airports over the last several years, including more than $2 million in infrastructure improvements announced in 2018 for Suffolk County-owned Francis S. Gabreski Airport, the Town of Islip’s Long Island MacArthur Airport and Brookhaven-Calabro Airport.

British accent: London-based British Airways is doing the terminal shuffle at JFK.

The $13 billion JFK Airport restoration is being fueled mostly by private funding – 90 percent, according to the governor’s office – and will include a host of passenger amenities, new ground-transportation options and “vastly simplified” roadways, resulting in “a unified and interconnected airport” with much greater capacity.

In addition to the Terminal 8 overhaul, JetBlue is constructing a $3 billion, 1.2 million-square-foot terminal on the airport’s north side that will connect to the airline’s existing terminal.

Another $7 billion, 2.9 million-square-foot terminal is slated to rise on the airport’s south side. Backed by a consortium of international airlines – Lufthansa, Air France, Japan Airlines and Korean Air – the new terminal will replace the existing Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 structures and extend into space left vacant when old Terminal 3 was demolished in 2014, according to current designs.

It all adds up to one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the nation – and the commitment by American Airlines and British Airways “continues our efforts to expand and modernize,” according to Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“The project will create new jobs and new opportunities for thousands of New Yorkers, and continue to grow our state’s economy and attract more visitors,” Hochul said in a statement. “This transformation of JFK and other airports across the state will ensure easier and safer travel and enhance the overall experience.”