Air travel in the greater New York City area is set to transform dramatically with nearly $25 billion in major construction underway or soon to start at four international airports in the region owned by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. More than half is earmarked to remake John F. Kennedy airport in Queens, N.Y., a $13-billion plan announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in October. Work will add two new terminals covering 4 million sq ft to the aging facility and create a unified airport to boost capacity by 15 million passengers annually.

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An area left vacant by demolished old terminals will be the site of the proposed $7-billion southside terminal for use by four international carriers. On the north side, Jet Blue has proposed building a $3-billion terminal to replace other teardowns. “Our New Jersey and New York airports must be 21st-century gateways befitting the importance and stature of the metropolitan area,” says Rick Cotton, authority executive director. Work is set to begin in 2020 with the first gates open in 2023, but there is concern whether the project can finish by the 2025 target. The authority board on Oct. 26 approved the start of lease negotiations with airlines. Also announced is a $355-million upgrade of a key 10,000-ft-long runway and taxiways, but there no official word on new runways, in part due to local and environmental opposition. Continuing elsewhere is the $8-billion overhaul of the city's outdated and cramped LaGuardia Airport. At Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, a $2.7-billion, 1-million-sq-ft terminal project just broke ground, with 33 gates expandable to 45. It will replace a 45-year-old building to be torn down. Also set to start is a $37-million upgrade to New York Stewart International Airport, 55 miles north of Manhattan, just renamed to boost its tie to the New York City region.