May 20, 2013-New York, New York, United States: An aerial view of downtown NYC.  (Dean Neistat/Polaris)

A wave of improvements are coming to JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Image via Smithsonian.

APEX Insight: With airport renovations slated at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia, by 2020, New York’s airport-scape will have shed its mid-century looks to don the image of Jet Age in the 21st century.

The Airports Council International North America (ACI-NA) has long been calling for cash to improve its decrepit airports. With more planes and people flying than ever, airports need to be modernized and expanded to accommodate the steady growth in commercial aviation they say. Renovation announcements came from three New York-serving airports this month, including the one by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden of LaGuardia’s $4-billion overhaul. With the wave of airport improvements coming, at least to New York, it looks as though ACI-NA’s wish might be coming true.

“It’s the greatest city in the world and it requires a 21st century infrastructure,” Biden said at the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) press conference held earlier this week. And with that, let’s look at some of the airport makeovers to come.

JFK's TWA Flight Center.

JFK’s TWA Flight Center.

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), TWA Flight Center
Passenger Increase From 2004: 42%

When the dust settles on the construction of the 178,000-square-foot animal terminal at JFK in 2016, renovations on the Trans World Flight Center will begin. The terminal, which was designated a New York City landmark in 1994 and has been vacant for 14 years, will be converted into a complex with 505 hotel rooms, several restaurants, a 40,000-square-feet event space and a 10,000-square-feet observation deck. Paying homage to the Eero Saarinen-designed building will be a museum that traces the history of former tenant, Trans World Airlines, the Jet Age and the mid-century design movement from that era. At the helm of the $265-million revival of the architecturally-admired structure is MCR Development, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and JetBlue, which recently opened a rooftop lounge/dog park in the airport’s Terminal 5.


EWR in Newark, New Jersey.

EWR in Newark, New Jersey.

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Terminal A
Passenger Increase From 2004: 12%

Completing the third phase of a redevelopment project that has been ongoing since 2004, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners recently approved the $40-million redevelopment of the 42-year-old Terminal A at EWR. The new design will set the tone for the eventual modernization of the rest of the facility. Although no start date has been announced, construction of a $25-million access bridge from the Central Terminal Area to Carson Road is first on order. The remaining $15-million will go towards program management and design. And to whom will the invoice be sent to? The Port Authority proposes “a recovery of expenditures up to $40 million” that will be covered by the federal Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), which of recent, has been a topic of debate.

“Today’s Board action reflects the Port Authority’s ongoing commitment to modernizing the facilities at all of our region’s major airports,’ said Port Authority chairman John Degnan. “Our airports are huge economic engines for New York and New Jersey, and are the gateway to our region for millions of travelers each year, so we will continue to invest in upgrading these vital resources in the years to come.”

LGA in Queens, New York.

LGA in Queens, New York.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Passenger Increase From 2004: 10%

“LaGuardia is un-New York,” Cuomo said at the ABNY luncheon. “LaGuardia is slow, it’s dated. It is a terrible front-door entranceway to New York.” The four terminals at LGA, one of which is 50 years old, will be met with a wrecking ball and replaced by a single-terminal design with 35 aircraft gates that are expected to serve 17.5 million passengers by 2030. The extra 2-mile space created will allow more airplanes to taxi and takeoff, lessening delays which the airport is famous for. Also planned is a rail line linking the airport to the New York City subway system and a high-speed ferry. While the Port Authority is handling the construction of terminals A and B, Delta Air Lines, which operates terminals C and D, will be footing the additional bill for those terminals. The new LaGuardia will be open to public in 2019, but its makeover won’t be officially complete until 2021.

*All passenger figures were calculated from the Port Authority website.