American Moving Forward with Facility Befitting Former Home Town’s Role as the Gateway to America
NEW YORK - Despite making drastic cuts elsewhere in its capital spending budget, American Airlines today announced that it will continue and actually accelerate the construction of its new facility at JFK International Airport.
“Speeding up the first construction phase of the project by at least six months underscores New York’s importance within American’s, and the world’s, commercial aviation network,” said Don Carty, American’s chairman and CEO. He said the decision also allows for immediately increasing local construction employment opportunities available on the project and provides American with a pathway to rebuild its own employee numbers in the future.
“Now, more than ever, we must ensure that New York - a city that served as our own home town for four decades - shines as a testament to the strength and fortitude of the American people,” Carty said. “We feel it would send the wrong message to defer or delay this project, even as we’re working to overcome our own obstacles. Instead, American is accelerating the work at JFK so we can more quickly help New York strengthen its image as the gateway to America.”
New York’s congressional leadership reacted positively to the announcement.
“American Airlines’ decision to go forward with the largest terminal project in the storied history of John F. Kennedy International Airport reaffirms the company’s commitment to New York,” said U.S. Representative Gregory W. Meeks. “As the largest employer in my congressional district and the largest carrier at Kennedy airport, American Airlines plays a critical role in the economic welfare of southeast Queens and New York City. This decision will help the economic recovery efforts for New York’s aviation industry, my congressional district and New York City takeoff.”
State and local leaders applauded the decision as well.
“We appreciate the support of American Airlines,” said New York Governor George E. Pataki. “With all of the critical business issues facing American, it is especially gratifying that Don Carty and his team have chosen to move forward with this project. It is vitally important for businesses, like American Airlines, to step forward to assist our efforts to support New York City and the entire region.”
Business leaders, too, have voiced their enthusiasm.
“We applaud American Airlines for its decision to accelerate its JFK terminal construction project despite the enormous financial hit airlines have taken because of the Sept. 11 tragedy,” said Daniel B. Walsh, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York. “American’s determination to move ahead with its new terminal will add immeasurably to JFK’s modernization. It will provide needed employment in New York and solidify JFK as the world-class gateway to New York and the USA.”
The acceleration also demonstrates American’s commitment to continue making smart fiscal decisions in the wake of the current downturn in traffic. Speeding up the project will actually allow the airline to pare several million dollars off the cost of the new building.
American originally announced the new 2.2 million-square-foot terminal project in January 1999. At the time, the airline expected to complete phase two, currently underway, in December 2003. Now, the major portion of phase two, a mid-field concourse with 17 gates, will be completed in June 2003. The entire project will be moved forward nine months with a new expected completion date of September 2006.
Once complete, the new facility will feature three concourses on three levels with a total of 55 gates for jets and commuter aircraft. It will be the largest and most advanced terminal at JFK with a passenger check-in area large enough to hold Giants Stadium. With enhancements including a new international arrivals facility designed to process up to 2,400 persons an hour, the building will be able to accommodate 14 million passengers annually.
By Nov. 1, American Airlines and American Eagle will serve JFK with 102 daily departures weekly to a number of key business destinations.