Delta Finally Reveals JFK Terminal Plans

In 1960, Pan Am built the Worldport at JFK. This terminal, now known just as Terminal 3 (or preferably as the ThirdWorldport), was a gem for the airline, but it quickly showed its obsolescence. It was tired by the 1980s and when Delta took it over in the early 1990s, it was on its last legs. Yet here we are nearly two decades later and Delta still hasn’t done anything about it. That is finally going to change with Delta’s new JFK terminal plans finally being announced.

The biggest problem with replacing the Worldport was simply lack of space and, most importantly, money. You can’t just stop using a terminal, shut it down, and then build a new one on top of it. What do you do with your flights in the meantime? So that means creative solutions are required, and those creative solutions add cost. JetBlue got lucky in New York in that it took over TWA’s vacant terminal and rebuilt it, all while continuing to use its operation next door. But Delta didn’t have that luxury, so it has now kicked off a $1.2 billion project to change it’s presence at JFK, something that’s sorely needed. Here’s the plan on my handy-dandy map:

New Delta JFK Terminal

Right now, Delta uses Terminal 2 primarily for domestic and Terminal 3 for international operations. The airline also uses a couple gates in Terminal 4 as needed. Terminal 2 wasn’t designed with style in mind as Terminal 3 was, so it’s actually relatively functional. It needs a renovation but it can still handle an operation adequately. The big change there? Those makeshift regional jet gates they put together at the end of the terminal will disappear and the end jet bridges will go back into use as regular gates.

As for Terminal 3, well, it will be demolished completely. If you’ve ever flown out of that terminal, you will jump for joy at this project. It simply isn’t capable of handling an airline operation today. The layout is goofy and it doesn’t help that several animals have made their homes in that place. I swear I’m never surprised to see rats or birds over there, though it’s been awhile since I’ve been back. Maybe the Orkin man has done some work since then.

I imagine that most of the cost in this project will be in taking down Terminal 3. It’s probably a toxic waste dump. The EPA is probably looking to see if it should become a Superfund site. Maybe now we’ll discover that Jimmy Hoffa has been buried under there this whole time, finally putting those rumors to rest.

But those disappearing gates in Terminal 3 have to show up somewhere else. And that will be in Terminal 4. Terminal 4 is already a really nice terminal, but it needs to be expanded for Delta’s purposes. Both concourses will be extended. From what I understand, the A concourse will grow so that current airlines in the B concourse can be relocated, and the B concourse will grow so Delta can handle its operation there. Then a connector will be built between the B concourse and Terminal 2 and all will be right again in New York . . . in 5 years, that is. As for the existing airlines in the B concourse? Guess they’ll have to find a new home elsewhere.

I asked for a count on the net gain in gates but I haven’t received an answer yet. I imagine it will at least replace all the existing gates and possibly add more, and it’s zero. But, there will be four more gates that are international-capable, so it does give Delta more flexibility. At the very least, it will put gates in better places so that taxiing in and out becomes much easier. Oh, and the former Terminal 3 site? That’ll be a nice place for Delta to park all those planes in order to avoid getting fined under the 3 hour rule. Hooray!

Now for the bad news. This won’t happen overnight. (Duh.) Delta will move in to the new terminal in 2013. Terminal 3 will be demolished in 2015. So, it’ll be a couple more years of pain for Delta’s New York fliers, but at least there’s now a light at the end of the tunnel.

[You can see pictures at Delta.com]

[Update 8/13 @ 810a: I received a response from Delta that the A gate extension is not in the plan right now. The map has been udpated, as have net gate counts.]

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44 Comments on "Delta Finally Reveals JFK Terminal Plans"

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Tom
Guest

Hi, Cranky. Perhaps you can clear this up. The expansion of Concourse A and the attenuated regional jet extension of Concourse B were not part of the plan revealed at this PANYNJ meeting:

http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/board-meeting-videos.html

The images showing those additions have been taken down from delta.com, making me think they are more long-term projects, with only the principal extension of Concourse B (and expanded check-in and security) to be done by 2013.

tharanga
Guest

I second Tom’s comment. It looks like the expansion of A is a bit pie-in-the-sky, a second phase that isn’t included in the 1.2 billion now. Possibly the same is true of the regional jet gates. Look at the videos from the board meetings of the port authority. You can also count gates on the graphics in those videos.

A
Guest
Terminal 2 wasn’t designed with style in mind as Terminal 3 was, so it’s actually relatively functional. As an Architect you’re killing me here. Anything can be designed to be both aesthetic and very functional. Too many airports in this country are all function and no style. Train stations of past generations were architectural masterpeices. Airports of our modern time should be the same. Although the old Worldport isn’t as high on my list as TWA’s old Saarinen designed terminal, I don’t think it should be razed. It’s a part of history. I wish Delta could be more forward thinking… Read more »
Andrew
Guest

Im glad you say that because i just wrote an email to the president of Delt, Richard Anderson asking him to consider doing what jeblue did and reuse the old worldprt as a lounge and check in to hangout. Before your flight, and i told him just to remove the fan addition to the terminal.

tharanga
Guest

A, if as an architect it pains you to see functional but style-less buildings, then figure out a way to design with both style and function without blowing the budget.

Christian
Guest

I too am sad to see T3 go. – Don’t get me wrong, I hate going through T3 as it is now (and have to do it on my frequent trips to TXL), but the original structure (without the low-ceiling addition from 1972) is an architectural and aviation landmark that should not go. It should be renovated and fixed and used as part of the T4-T2 connector.

JamesK
Guest

You’re singing my song! I flew into JFK for the first time on an arrival from TLV last November, and while the 70s annex is atrocious, the cantilevered flying saucer is aviation history–though it could use some TLC. I always thought Delta made a mistake (for many reasons) building the “horseshoe” for Delta Connection at T2 and that with some work, T3 sans the annex could make a decent place to park RJs. If nothing else, that T2-T4 walk will be a killer.

Nick Barnard
Member

I’ve never been through T3, but the old historic terminal should stay in some way shape or form.

Although, what does it look like inside? I’ven’t been able to find any pictures of it…

Jim
Guest

There are pictures out there that confirm what others have said – Concourse A will remain the same. However, one wonders why it’s not being expanded. There certainly is enough room for it.

David SF eastbay
Member

Did I read somewhere that T3 would have a new parking garage? Is the B concourse going all the way to the taxiway or should that blue line not be that far out?

SEAN
Guest

Cranky,

how many gates are at terminals 2/3 currently? I thaught it was close to 28.

MathFox
Guest

In related news:

http://www.rnw.nl/english/bulletin/schiphol-buys-jfk-terminal-4

Schiphol holding has become the full owner of the company owning/exploiting T4.

RB
Guest

They should has raised Terminal 2 after having rebuilt Terminal 3. The walk from 2 to 4 is going to awful and they should have tried to do a better job of consolidating their operations in 3 and 4.

Here are images released by Delta of what it will look like:

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/08/12/delta_shows_off_whats_replacing_doomed_jfk_terminal.php

Danie
Member

Separately it is being reported that American wants to expand terminal 8 and move its Oneworld partners in there. The Lan airlines currently are at terminal 4. That would free up a bit of room.

jabelson
Member

That presupposes that the merged LAN/TAM is part of oneWorld rather than Star. Since LAN seems to be the driver behind the merger, the odds favor oneWorld, but there is no guarantee at all at this point

Eric
Guest

I agree that the (third)WordPort is about as functional as a space heater on a Texas afternoon in August….but I am with Christian and others on here that will hate to see the Flying Saucer go away. I think airports with the sterile ambiance of your local mall add to the stress of the average traveler.

Plus..I am sure those folks connecting to DLC flight 5992 to CVG are gonna love walking down to gate B-372(a). Anyone notice that the B super-extension is going to be about 7 feet from the KD taxiway??

dan
Guest

Is terminal 2 going to get completely renovated???

BCH in NYC
Guest
Thanks for the map, it’s very helpful in deciphering all the statements about what’s gonna happen. You write that PA built the Worldport in 1960. Nope, they opened the umbrella terminal in ’60 (I worked in PA PR in the mid-’60s and then the late ’70s and I never heard anyone call it the flying saucer). As some readers have noted, it bids fair to top TWA’s flying brassiere for architectural novelty. More to the point of function, well before jetways it allowed 707s and DC-8s to nose in under cover where passengers could walk straight on board, no stairs.… Read more »
Bob Austin
Guest

I flew out of the Pan Am WorldPort for 25 years, first as a Flight Engineer, then Co-Pilot, finally Captain. I doubt if you can imagine how bad all Pan Am employees felt when this great airline was allowed to go under. Now one of the last images of this airlines existence is to be torn down. How sad. Thank goodness one can still go to Miami and see where this great airline originated.

Jim
Guest

Cranky, I guess you can erase this comment if you want, but this was a horrible post. You got it wrong about the expansion, then you got it wrong about the WorldPort. You could have done a simple internet search to get it right both times. I think you may have too much going on, and you may want to either hire an editor (to correct the typos on your BNET posts) or cut back on the amount of articles you write.

Nick Barnard
Member

Jim, what did he get wrong? Unless you can say what he got wrong, you might as well stop.

Also, until you’ve walked in someone’s shoes for a while, I recommend not throwing mud.

Yeah, Cranky has typos sometimes, and I for one wouldn’t mind a slightly lighter posting schedule, but all in all Cranky Flier is a fun and entertaining fun blog.

Chuck
Guest

DL confirmed the RJ gates in T4? Odd since the PANYNJ do not reference it at all!

ICUDoc
Guest

I don’t get it – American gets a brand spanking new terminal – jetBlue jets a brand spanking new terminal – and for $1.2 billion Delta gets to demolish an old terminal and extend a concourse and people are happy about it? The unless they re-do the front end of Terminal 4 for modern check in and security – it still will be the same old thing – so why is Delta happy about this? It can’t compete with what American and JetBlue did!!

judith
Guest

Anyone here want to join in an effort to save the building—-for another use obviously—-we have begun and could use a ton of help!!!!! Thanks,
Jude

GH
Guest

Terminal 2 is barely better than Terminal 3. It’s too bad it won’t be demolished as well.

Devin Tichy
Guest

Why does this article speak so negatively about the worldport it is a 51 year old peice of history and an Icon. The author really seems to see this as a burdon is giving up such a great piece and a whole terminal worth a connector between t2 and t4 with a few RJ gates? and isnt delta intending to move some of its domestic and regional opps to their new terminals in LGA inherited from Usair allong with some 130 slots ?

Whisperliner
Guest

looking at the map and amount of gates etc… I think they should demolish T2 which is horrible also, and refurbish T3, and use T2 space for parking. It will make it better for pax not having to walk all the way from ridiculous T2 to T4…T3 is an icon of aviation history and I think architects can do a better job on planning the whole thing…use T2 while reburbishing T3 when T4 is complete, then demolish that tiny horrible T2….just my thought!!

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PlaneFan
Guest

Delta should build a new terminal on the site of the Worldport when it is demolished for domestic use. I highly doubt that Terminal 2 can handle all of Delta’s domestic operations with only 10 gates and such small space.

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