Construction is ready for take-off on a brand new, $4.2 billion terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport early next year, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.
Hochul, fresh off a narrow election victory for her first full term in office, said that a financing and lease deal had closed and environmental approval by the Federal Aviation Administration is secured for the new 10-gate, 1.2 million square foot Terminal 6, which is expected to handle its first passengers in 2026 ahead of final completion in 2028.
“JFK International — the nation’s door to the world — will soon be worthy of New Yorkers, providing an unparalleled passenger experience,” Hochul said in a statement. “This historic $18 billion investment will not only transform JFK into a world-class airport, but also create 4,000 jobs in the process, and I thank everyone who put in the years of hard work to move this project forward.”
The new terminal will be a new New York City air hub for Lufthansa and JetBlue, with Terminal 6 set to be connected with JetBlue’s Terminal 5. Passengers will be able to enjoy 100,000 square feet of new shopping and dining options, and to gawk at installations by local artists.
The terminal will be built in two phases; financing and approvals are all set for the first phase, which will be built starting next year atop the site of the old Terminal 6 — now an underutilized lot used for aircraft parking — on the northern side of the airport, said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. The second phase will replace the existing Terminal 7, which is set to be demolished; that terminal’s main tenant, British Airways, is set to move into the newly revamped Terminal 8.
The $4.2 billion in financing will mostly come from private funders: the Port Authority will commit $130 million in capital funds for “enabling infrastructure,” while the rest will come from money raised by JFK Millennium Partners, a consortium of investors including Vantage Airport Group — which oversaw development and operations at LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B — private equity firm American Triple I, real estate developer RXR, and JetBlue.
The Port Authority says Terminal 6 represents the “final piece” of the agency’s $18 billion transformation of JFK. Construction broke ground on a brand new, $9.5 billion Terminal 1 in September. A $1.5 billion expansion of Delta’s Terminal 4 is under construction, while British Airways is set to begin flight operations at Terminal 8 later this year after a $400 million modernization is complete.
“At this point, the financing of this deal is fully in hand, the private partners are fully committed, and the Port Authority is fully committed,” said Cotton at the Port Authority’s monthly board meeting on Nov. 17. “This represents the full funding, the full commitment, and the ability to execute on what was the full original vision for the transformation of John F. Kennedy Airport.”
Work at JFK is just a component of the Port Authority’s massive campaign to transform New York’s once-maligned airports into glitzy gateways to the City That Never Sleeps.
Ribbons were cut on two brand new, $4 billion terminals at LaGuardia this year, bringing world-class snazz to an airport once famously compared by President Joe Biden to a “third-world country.” And next month, the Port Authority will open up the newly-reconstructed, $2.7 billion Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, replacing the reviled existing terminal of the same name.
The Terminal 6 project was significantly derailed and delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cotton noted.
“This has been a long and difficult road,” Cotton said. “This Terminal 6, along with three other projects at Kennedy, was ready to go, completely negotiated, virtually groundbreaking scheduled, in April of 2020. And COVID came along.”
With the financial uncertainty brought by the pandemic, the original deal fell apart and the planned 2020 groundbreaking never happened. The newly reconfigured partnership was approved in August 2021, while the final i’s and t’s were dotted and crossed this month.