New York City's airports are no longer the worst in America

The new LaGuardia Terminal B and Newark Terminal A are examples of modernity and efficiency in North American aviation. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

Crumbling walls, overcrowded boarding gates, slow security lines, filthy lobbies, narrow corridors, and terrible traffic in and out, not to mention the rats crawling on chairs and sneaking past sleeping unsuspecting passengers. Not long ago, the list of complaints about New York's three airports was endless. Still in 2016, John F. Kennedy International Airporthe Newark Liberty International Airport And the LaGuardia Airport They were among the 10 worst airports in the United States.

However, the new terminal B the guard And the new station A Newark They represent shining beacons of modern airport design and efficiency. In March 2024, each received the highest five-star rating from the aviation rating company com. skytrax — a ranking based on a comprehensive audit of facilities and customer service — and was the only airport in North America to appear on that coveted list.

Also in March, the guard In 2023, it was named “Best Airport in North America” within its weight category (i.e. airports serving between 25 and 40 million passengers annually). This award, which is part of ACI's annual Airport Service Quality Awards, is based on traveler opinions collected in departure and arrival surveys.

“The recognition they get a lot the guard how Newark “It's amazing,” said Rick Cotton, the foundation's executive director Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He added: “No one could have predicted this situation.”

A full year after the $8 billion, six-year transformation has overhauled the city's lackluster spaces the guardPeople like to fly through the same hub as the president Joe Biden He once called it “shameful” and “stupid” while unambiguously comparing it to a “third world country”.

The same can be said about Newarkwhich in November 2022 completed a $2.7 billion, 1 million-square-meter renovation of Building A that began in 2017.

The new terminals at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports are distinguished by their commitment to sustainability, operational efficiency and improved accessibility for all passengers. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

For those who have traveled through these centers in recent months, it's easy to see why. The stuffy and dirty arrival and departure halls have been replaced by larger versions with floor-to-ceiling windows to create a more spacious feel.

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Whereas security lines once stretched across winding hangars, there is now two or three times more space to screen passengers. Check-in areas offer shiny new kiosks and a design that leans toward comfort rather than economy.

You may have to walk a little longer to get to the two airports' new terminals — which are 20% to 50% larger — but upgraded public art installations, restaurants, and lounges make that less of a burden.

Amenities include children's play areas, water and laser shows, and spacious bathrooms with many hands-free devices. Behind the scenes, road networks were expanded and corridors were restructured, streamlining flight operations.

“I can't tell you how many people have said to me, 'Can you believe that?' I leave early to get in the guard “Because I want to spend some time at the airport,” Cotton said.

With about $10 billion spent so far, out of a total investment of $30 billion, Cotton's work is far from complete. The next airport to be renovated is John Kennedy.Works worth $19 billion are being carried out to establish two large stations and expand the two existing stations, in addition to improving roads.

This 10-figure budget originally allocated $9.5 billion for the new Terminal 1 — the largest of all the international terminals to be built in the region — as well as $4.2 billion for the construction of the new Terminal 6 (which will serve… Lufthansa Group And JetBlue) and 1,500 million to expand Building No. 4 of Delta Airlines.

All but $3.9 billion of this money represents private investment; The rest comes from Port Authoritya binational agency that generates revenue from tolls, fees, and rents collected by utilities (not income taxes).

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Public-private financing partnerships have enabled reconstruction the guard And the John Kennedy.With various private sector partners providing between 66% and 75% of the financing, respectively, Cotton explained. The Union of Financial, Operating and Labor Partners in Building 1 includes: Carlyle Group, Ferrovial SE, JLC Infrastructure And Oliko. Station A project NewarkWith a value of $2.7 billion, it was fully financed by… Port Authority.

According to Cotton, these public-private partnerships constitute 30-year commitments that include a commitment to renovate and maintain facilities, which will help prevent airport deterioration. There are also specifications for airports to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve sustainability.

JFK Airport's $19 billion renovation plan promises to redefine the international aviation experience with its new terminals. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

New station 1)NTO) from the airport John Kennedy. For international flights, which will open in June 2026 after a four-year redesign led by Gensler Architecture Studio, it will occupy 2.4 million square meters previously occupied by Terminals 1, 2 and 3. Currently, seven airlines are expected to cooperate with NTO.

Jennifer Aumentwas recently appointed CEO of NTOpromises that Terminal 1 will innovate on several fronts to help set a new global standard for customer service.

“From the first moment, all purchases we make from our partners or service providers at the terminal have our own customer service standards associated with them,” Aument said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine. Bloomberg During his first week on the job. He added that customer service expectations were included in all contracts, even those for baggage handlers and guards. (His office declined to clarify those expectations, citing competitive reasons.)

Regarding design, Ty OsbawChief of Aviation Gensler, states that the goal is to make life easier for passengers. Initially, the design will be compact, avoiding very long vestibules. He explained that this is possible because the station will reduce distances by operating parallel to the runway. Osbawcompared to, for example, Delta's Terminal 4, whose geometry and angular nature require a longer run.

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Arriving travelers will enter the immigration hall with high ceilings and windows, instead of the dull basement, overlooking the departing crowds. Officials will have the latest screening technology to process passengers more quickly.

Travelers with disabilities will be better served, thanks to new rules for Port Authority. “This is the first station I've been involved with that has thought about disabled passengers from the beginning,” with curbside wheelchair assistance systems and concierge waiting rooms for passengers with disabilities, Osbaugh said.

The baggage claim area, which has never received positive reviews, will also be redesigned. The new Terminal 1's 10-metre-high ceilings will give the feel of an arrivals hall, with lively design elements such as a New York taxi resting on conveyor belts.

Improvements in ground access to New York's airports, including new transfer routes and plans to improve connectivity, address the challenge of traffic and congestion (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz).

The traffic and congestion associated with accessing these airports will continue to be a challenge, though Port Authority $1.24 billion is being spent to speed up roads leading to John Kennedy.. It is also building a new ground transportation hub and creating more parking lots, both planned for 2027.

Building the air train the guard It proved too expensive, so New Yorkers will have to make do with new shuttle buses that connect with the N and W lines at the subway station in Astoria-Dietmars Blvd; Design and engineering will take four to five years, depending on the condition Port Authority. Cotton says he is committed to replacing the current Air train to Newarka project that is in the early contracting stages.

in it John Kennedy.the recent expansion of Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Station And Penn Station It facilitated the arrival of passengers to Jamaica Station Air train.

“We are well aware that travelers want better ground access to airports. We are taking it step by step,” Cotton concluded.

(c) Bloomberg, 2024.

Myrtle Frost

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