New York to speed projects at JFK and LaGuardia airports

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New York State plans to take control of construction projects at New York’s JFK International and LaGuardia airports, in an effort by governor Andrew Cuomo to speed improvements to the facilities.

The state plans to modernise the airports, especially LaGuardia where the central terminal building dates to the early 1960s, “efficiently and rapidly”, according to a set of policy guidelines released by the governor after his state of the state speech on 8 January.

“We will assume management responsibility from the Port Authority for construction at JFK and LaGuardia airports,” he says in the speech. “We’re going to do what we did with the Tappan Zee Bridge, we’re going to step in and stop talking about it and get the government to work and redevelop those airports the way they should have been redeveloped many, many years ago.”

The consistently poor ranking of LaGuardia among passengers is a “disgrace”, he adds.

Construction of a new Tappan Zee span began in 2013 under Cuomo’s leadership after years of studies and debate over building a new bridge.

It is unclear what impact the transfer of construction authority to New York from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), which is responsible for construction currently, will have.

At LaGuardia, the operator is in the midst of procuring a design, build, finance, operate and maintain concessionaire for a new central terminal. It short shortlisted four consortiums for a roughly $2.6 billion long-term concession of a new 35-gate central terminal in July 2013.

However, the current status of the procurement is unclear, as a request for proposals was previously planned in the second quarter of 2013.

The PANYNJ was not immediately available for comment.

One private sector firm involved in the procurement says that neither New York nor the PANYNJ has informed them of a change in authority. They add that they are waiting for clarification on governor Cuomo’s comments.

At JFK, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways are both in the midst of construction projects. The former is working on a $175 million concourse extension for regional aircraft to terminal 4 scheduled to open in 2015 and the latter an about $200 million international arrivals facility on terminal 5.

New York-based JetBlue says that T5i, as their project is called, is not be impacted by governor Cuomo’s plans. They add that they are on-track for an early opening this November.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the Governor’s office and the Port Authority to make New York’s airports world-class facilities,” says Delta Atlanta-based Delta.

Cuomo outlines adding new retail options, including local New York restaurants, on-airport hotels and free wi-fi at JFK, in his policy guidelines.