The pandemic-delayed plan to build a privately financed Terminal 6 at New York City’s JFK International Airport is back on track, following an Aug. 5 vote by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners to approve a new lease agreement for the facility.

Originally set to begin construction in 2020, the new terminal was halted when COVID-19 cut JFK’s passenger volume by as much as 98%, threatening the viability of private-sector investment. Under the funding consortium’s restructured deal with the Port Authority, the new $3.9-billion, 1.2-million-sq-ft terminal is set to break ground in 2022, with the first of its 10 gates beginning service by 2025.

The restructured deal actually allowed the agency to offer a longer lease, now 38 years, to allow the private investors to recoup the costs of construction, which is anticipated to take about five years, says Rick Cotton, the Port Authority's executive director. He notes that the construction will include a design-build contract with AECOM-Hunt, and the port authority will invest $130 million in supporting infrastructure.

"Utility enhancements are high on the list ...  Airside improvements, redone taxiways, hard stands, ground transportation facilities," he says.  

Slated to accommodate both wide- and narrow-body aircraft, the new facility will connect to Terminal 5, which is occupied primarily by consortium partner Jet Blue Airways. According to the Port Authority, the new terminal will feature “bright and airy check-in halls and arrival spaces designed to enhance the customer experience.” Other features include advanced passenger security systems, and 100,000 sq ft of commercial dining and retail amenities, lounges and recreational spaces. Renewable energy technologies such as a solar hot water system, aircraft de-icing and fluid recovery, and electric ground service equipment, will be included to help reduce carbon emissions.

The new terminal will rise on the sites of the original Terminal 6, demolished in 2011, and Terminal 7, which is scheduled to be torn down in 2022 after British Airways relocates its operations to Terminal 8. It is just one piece of a larger transformation of JFK, says Cotton.

Terminal 8 will undergo a $350-million upgrade in conjunction with British Airway's planned relocation. JFK International Air Terminal, LLC., the private operator of Terminal 4, recently committed to a $1.5-billion Phase 1 improvement program, says Cotton. And the Port Authority eventually plans a renovation of Terminal 1. "It will be a large deal in the same vicinity as Terminal 6," says Cotton.