Private funds promised for lion's share of JFK airport plan

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John F. Kennedy International Airport will get its day in the redevelopment sun.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton unveiled a $13 billion modernization plan for the airport Thursday that features two new terminals and enhanced roadway access.


The project, which is supposed to include $12 billion of private funding, advances a vision outlined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January 2017. It follows in the footsteps of a public-private partnership two years ago by the Port Authority for an $8 billion overhaul of LaGuardia Airport.

“Governor Cuomo challenged us to leverage precious Port Authority capital plan dollars to maximize private investment," Cotton said during an Association for Better New York breakfast event in midtown Manhattan. “We have done just that with more than 90 percent of the $13 billion investment coming from private non-Port Authority capital sources.”

The Port Authority, which is one of the nation's largest municipal bond issuers, budgeted $1 billion in its 10-year capital plan for the JFK project with expectations that the private sector would chip in for most of the redevelopment. The bi-state transportation agency, which has around $20 billion in outstanding debt, is rated Aa3 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-minus by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings.

Construction is slated to commence in 2020 with the first new gates opening in 2023 and “substantial completion” in 2025. Port Authority officials said the airport set a record with nearly 60 million passengers in 2017 and is projected to eclipse 75 million passengers by 2030. Cotton said the JFK project will be the largest transportation undertaking in the agency’s 97-year history.

“While leaders in Washington talk about investing in infrastructure, we're actually doing it at historic levels and the transformation of JFK Airport into a 21st century transportation hub will ensure New York remains the nation's front door to the world," Cuomo said in a statement. "This historic investment to modernize JFK Airport and the surrounding transportation network will not only ease travel through this major hub, but it will ensure JFK joins the ranks as one of the finest airports in the world."

JetBlue Airways is developing a new $3 billion, 1.2 million-square-foot terminal project on the north side of JFK Airport with Vantage Airport Group and RXR Realty LLC. The airline plans to demolish a 48-year-old terminal and use the space created when another terminal was demolished in 2011. The new expanded complex will link to JetBlue’s existing terminal that opened in 2008.

A $7 billion, 2.9 million-square-foot terminal slated for the airport’s south side is being spearheaded by the Terminal One Group, a consortium of four international airlines—Lufthansa, Air France, Japan Airlines and Korean Air Lines. It would replace two terminals that are 56 and 20 years old and take up space where another terminal was demolished in 2014. The new larger facility will yield a net increase of over 2 million square feet from the existing terminals and accommodate larger, wide-body aircraft.

The JFK redevelopment will also include improved passenger connectivity among terminal areas as well as the Port Authority adding 50% capacity to the airport’s AirTrain system. The New York State Department of Transportation has also targeted $1.5 billion in highway improvements designed to ease bottlenecks on the Kew Gardens Interchange and Van Wyck Expressway.

“JFK has long been the dreaded airport in New York, with outdated amenities, confusing navigation, and challenging access from the outside,” said Kathryn Wylde, Partnership for New York City president and CEO. “This investment is an unprecedented commitment to modernizing our infrastructure and ensuring that New Yorkers and visitors will have the 21st century travel experience they have come to expect.”

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Infrastructure Transportation industry Public-private partnership Andrew Cuomo Port Authority of New York & New Jersey New York
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