JFK International Airport

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JFK International Airport - Major Changes

Possibly due to the rest of John F. Kennedy International Airport preparing for a major overhaul, nearly all recent changes at the airport have been through Terminal 4. That terminal has been engaged in an extensive rebranding program since 2016, and as a part of that rebranding, has partnered with several tech companies to improve the passenger experience.


  • In May 2019, JFK's Terminal 4 launched Aira Access, which will provide visually-impaired passengers with "enhanced visual information and real-time service to navigate" the terminal.
  • Aira Access also operates via a smartphone app which enables passengers to connect to an agent, who can then use the phone's camera, GPS, and other data to provide verbal descriptions and directions, making it easier for the visually impaired to navigate crowds and obstacles.
  • Roel Huinink, President and CEO of JFKIAT (the company which oversees operations at Terminal 4) explains, "At T4, we are always looking for ways to better serve our passengers, and Aira Access is an excellent tool for improving the airport experience for those travelers who are blind or low vision."


  • In March 2019, JFK's Terminal 4 Airline Consortium (TFAC) became the first airport terminal to offer travelers with mobility problems access to Jetweels wheelchairs.
  • Jetweels are "non-metallic, lightweight and ergonomic seat-equipped wheelchairs" which are also stackable, making it possible to keep more on-hand than would be possible with conventional wheelchairs.
  • Huinink explained the partnership by saying, "At Terminal 4, we are committed to bringing new offerings to enhance the travel experience and increase accessibility for our more than 21 million annual passengers. We are thrilled to collaborate with PAX Assist and Jetweels to introduce comfortable and nimble wheelchairs so passengers can enjoy an easy and stress-free travel experience."


  • In March 2019, Terminal 4 announced that it had partnered with Jabbrrbox to provide its passengers "with private, technology-equipped connected workspaces" which can be rented at a price of $15 for 30 minutes.
  • The work booths provide Wi-Fi access, USB charging ports, video conferencing, and Bluetooth connectivity, among other features.
  • Huinink explains the reason for the partnership: "Our passengers are constantly on the move, and they need great places where they can work on the fly — make phone and video calls, finish an important memo, or just catch up on emails."



  • In November 2018, Terminal 4 announced a partnership with biometrics company CLEAR to enable passengers to "verify their identity and get to their flights with the tap of a finger or blink of an eye."
  • Explaining the partnership, Huinink cited the need for this latest innovation to "ensure a seamless travel experience" for Terminal 4's 21 million annual passengers. "In addition, with its biometric capabilities, CLEAR will also add a heightened layer of safety and security to our terminal."


  • In May 2018, JFK's Terminal 4 "expanded its digital presence with the launch of an award-winning website."
  • This site not only provides information to passengers, but also to airline staff, greeters, and community, including tourism information about New York City, facilitating a "stress-free" travel environment.
  • The new web portal continues Terminal 4's efforts to brand itself, "creating both a visual identity for the building and an inviting atmosphere for its more than 21 million annual passengers."


Given the focus on changes made in the last year, we began our research by seeking news articles and press releases about JFK International Airport, reasoning that major changes in such a prominent airport would likely be newsworthy. We soon found that the current news cycle is dominated by JFK's upcoming plans for a major expansion, which we will detail elsewhere.

To get around this dominance in the current news cycle, we segmented articles by month and worked our way backwards. This strategy yielded a number of recent changes in Terminal 4 of JFK, five of which were reported by Metropolitan Airport News.
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JFK International Airport - Planned Changes

With a major revamp slated to begin in 2020, John F. Kennedy International Airport will be experiencing some truly major changes over the next six years. However, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYN) only announced an open Request for Information call — seeking ideas and estimates for updates to JFK's hub — in July 2019, so there are as yet few details about the final form of the coming changes.



  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYN) announced in July 2019 that they are "seeking firms that specialize in designing, developing and operating multi-use commercial developments or large-scale public spaces."
  • Because PANYN is only at the Request for Information stage, the ultimate outcomes of the construction and changes are not fully known yet; PANYN has referred to the new hub as "a blank canvas to create a centrally-located commercial and recreational public space to serve today's travelers and employees."
  • A statement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo indicates that the expansion "could also include retail, dining and office space, as well as recreational and cultural offerings."
  • However, Governor Cuomo's office has presented several artistic renderings of what the finished project might look like, which can be found here.
  • The project is expected to span a 14-acre area and include the construction of two new international terminals; this will add over four million square feet of space and allow JFK to transport an additional 15 million passengers per year. This will increase the total annual passenger capacity of the airport to over 62 million.


  • According to Kathy Hochul, New York's lieutenant governor, "The modernization of the airport is part of our overall efforts to ensure easier and safer travel, increase the tourism industry in New York and strengthen our economy for generations to come."



  • The new northern terminal, to be developed by JetBlue, will be 1.2 million square feet and cost $3 million.
  • The northern terminal will occupy the space now taken by Terminal 7 (slated to be demolished) and space formerly occupied by Terminal 6.
  • It will have 12 international gates designed to accommodate wider jets in addition to "74,000 square feet of retail, 30,000 square feet of airline lounges, and 15,000 square feet of recreation space."


  • As of July 2019, PANYN has reached an agreement with Munich Airport International (MAI) to have EWR Terminal One LLC (a subsidiary of MAI) manage JFK's Terminal 1 modernization project in addition to a new Terminal One under construction at Newark Liberty International Airport.
  • Contributing to PANYN's decision, Munich Airport has been awarded Skytrax's "Europe's Best Airport" title 12 times over the last 14 years, making MAI ideal for JFK's plan to achieve "operational excellence."


We began our research by pulling recent news articles and press releases, reasoning that JFK may have announced upcoming renovations for PR purposes. This proved exactly to be the case, as there were numerous articles discussing the planned 2020 renovations. We soon found that this project is still in the planning phase, as explained in our findings above, and so many details are unknown even to the planners as yet. Therefore, we have been forced to include speculation by those involved to give the most complete picture possible.