Is a new super terminal in the works?
In 2019, Eero Saarinen’s masterpiece will live again. The TWA Hotel will open at New York’s JFK Airport, breathing exciting new life into an iconic piece of aviation history, with direct connections to Terminal 5. Yep, it’s the walkway in “Catch Me if You Can” where Tom Hanks catches Leonardo DiCaprio. In October, proposals were unveiled, aimed at modernizing JFK with new terminals and fewer of them. It may never have a butterfly garden, or the largest indoor waterfall like Singapore Changi International, but airline deals to get the ball rolling may be closer than expected…
British Airways has a lease on Terminal 7 until 2022. With 48 years of age, the airline recently poured in over $68million to give the terminal a much appreciated face lift, but it may not be long before full on reconstructive surgery is required. Strong rumors suggest that British Airways and JetBlue have inched closer to announcing official plans with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to demolish Terminal 7 and utilize vacant space from the old Terminal 6, creating a super terminal of sorts. The project will involve JetBlue’s Terminal 5, with connections to 6 and 7. In October, news of the various proposals were announced, but this is the first sign of progress in complex intra airline negotiations.
Terminal 5, occupied by JetBlue is the newest Terminal at JFK Airport. The addition of the TWA Hotel will soon make early or late flights a breeze, and there’s exciting promise to the notion of a brand new, built from spec “super terminal” on the north side merging 5, 6 and 7. Modern airports benefit from seamless passenger movement and one mega terminal would be a huge upgrade to JFK’s crumbling and inefficient infrastructure.
Onward British Airways connections to American Airlines would still be relatively easy using the AirTrain, and the airline is rapidly increasing point to point flights, without the need for New York connections. As deals move forward, it will be extremely interesting to look for new transatlantic tie ins between JetBlue and British Airways. JetBlue has been teasing transatlantic flight over the last year, aimed at reducing premium fare prices. That could certainly make sharing a JFK home “awkward”.
On the south side of JFK, a similarly comprehensive mega structure with Japan Airlines, Air France, Korean and Lufthansa is in the works. The four airlines represent the Terminal One Group and not to be outdone on the north side, this new development would replace Terminals 1,2,3 with a new 4 million square foot structure, filtering direct connectivity into Terminal 4. This makes abundant sense, with Air France and Korean partners Delta, KLM and perhaps (soon) Virgin Atlantic operating the lions share of slots at Terminal 4.
The concept is simple: spend $13 billion dollars and get a better airport in just under two decades. The intricate deals needed to finalize logistics such as gates, space, lounges and who pays what percentage of the rent are anything but. Rumors that British Airways and JetBlue are closer to a deal are extremely promising for the consolidated makeover timeline. The rumor that T7 will indeed be demolished also adds clarity as airlines and passengers look into the future. The plans aim to increase JFK’s capacity from 60 million annual customers to 80 million with a due date of 2025. If you know New York construction, you may not want to hold your breath.