There’s been plenty of talk about New York/LaGuardia finally having shed itself of the old Central Terminal Area with its gleaming new Terminal B. While the rebuild of Delta’s Terminal C continues, the real action is shifting over to JFK where the Port Authority is spending (checks notes) $300 gagillion babillion to get rid of several terminals and remake the airport.
I’m not going to get into access changes in this post, but instead, I’ll focus on the airlines and terminals. Despite there being terminals numbered up to 8, there are actually only 6 at JFK these days. That’s because the old Pan Am Worldport (Terminal 3) is now pavement, and the old National Sundrome (Terminal 6) — also JetBlue’s first home — was razed a few years back.
That leaves things broken down as you can see on the map below.
There isn’t an easy way to categorize each of these terminals and their functions, but I’ll try my best.
- Terminal 1 is an international terminal with some strange bedfellows thanks to airlines jointly owning the terminal that don’t necessarily have commercial relationships with each other. Tenants include Aeroflot, Air France (but not KLM), EVA, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Lufthansa Group (but not Eurowings), Turkish, and a whole bunch of cats and dogs.
- Terminal 2 is still used by Delta. It was closed during the pandemic when traffic was low, but Delta still needs it to run its full operation.
- Terminal 4 is now Delta’s main terminal with the westernmost concourse B being Delta’s domain. The terminal is also the primary international terminal for Delta’s partners — including Aeromexico, KLM, LATAM, Virgin Atlantic, and WestJet — along with a ton of other airlines ranging from Emirates to Copa and everything in between.
- Terminal 5 is JetBlue’s home except for international arrivals late at night which must go through Terminal 4. JetBlue partners Aer Lingus and Hawaiian also call the place home.
- Terminal 7 is the British Airways terminal, but it also includes a weird mix of airlines ranging from Aerolineas Argentinas to Eurowings and Icelandair. You’ll also find the domestic cats and dogs here… Alaska and United.
- Terminal 8 is the American terminal, and over the years it has grown — or American has shrunk — to include partners Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qatar, and Royal Jordanian. For some reason, Ethiopian is also in this terminal, though I have no idea why.
For many reasons, this arrangement is not great. Usually in big cities, alliances like to be closer together, but that is not the case at JFK where they are all scattered to the wind. Several coming projects are going to now effectively eliminate two terminals and help to fix this mess.
Here is what it will look like in the end with brown being existing terminals and green being new construction.
Alright, so what is happening here?
Terminal 4 Extension
Delta recently broke ground on an extension of Concourse A in Terminal 4. This will add 10 gates. That may not sound like a lot, but it also wasn’t Delta’s original plan. This will allow Delta to consolidate its entire operation in Terminal 4, abandoning Terminal 2 for good, so it’s an important move.
The New Terminal 1
With Terminal 2 emptied, it will be razed. That will allow the new Terminal 1 to be built in phases. This new terminal will sit on top of the footprints of Terminals 1, 2, and the gone-but-not-forgotten 3. I assume this will allow United to reunite with partner Lufthansa Group over in Terminal 1. Heck, this will also allow Lufthansa Group to unite itself, with Eurowings presumably moving over. Other cats and dogs like Ethiopian should be able to move in with friendly Star Alliance partners in Terminal 1 as well, I’d think, but it’s too early to know that for sure. That being said, I doubt this will be a Star terminal since there will still be other legacy airlines in the mix.
Terminal 8 Expansion
My assumption about United and Eurowings leaving for Terminal 1 is partially informed by the fact that their current home at Terminal 7 isn’t going to be there long. This terminal will be razed. British Airways will be moving over into Terminal 8 with its joint venture partner American, something that’s long overdue. There is a minor project in Terminal 8 to add a couple new gates, some hardstands, and lounge space so that it can adequately support BA’s operation. Over time, I imagine that Alaska might find a way into this terminal as well since it has to leave Terminal 7, is a member of oneworld, and has an important partnership with American.
The New Terminal 6
With Terminal 7 out of the way, they can finally rebuild the new Terminal 6 which is really just going to be an extension of Terminal 5 with more international capability. This won’t be a huge, with only 9 new gates at last check. But it should allow JetBlue’s growth and provide a place for some of JetBlue’s closer international partners to relocate.
When this is all said and done… I’m pretty sure JFK will still be a mess. But the facilities will all be nice and new, and partners should be able to locate closer to each other, making it easier for travelers. I’m not sure how all the rats will feel about their homes being demolished, but I guess you can’t please everyone.