The Editor’s Corner #32 – JFK’s New Terminal 6 Will Come Too Late

LONDON – I personally believe that the opening of New York’s JFK Terminal 6 in 2026 will come too late for the airport’s constant problem with overcapacity. Welcome to The Editor’s Corner.

The Editor’s Corner is an op-ed series from AviationSource Editor-in-Chief James Field, who is going to give his thoughts (Maybe controversial) on all things going on in the aviation industry.

In case you have missed the last 31, feel free to browse through them before you continue to read this piece:

  1. The Editor’s Corner #1: The Industry Isn’t Ready for Summer 2022 Demand
  2. The Editor’s Corner #2: JetBlue’s Offer for Spirit Airlines Will Change The American Airline Dynamic
  3. The Editor’s Corner #3: Boris Johnson’s Damage To The Aviation Sector is Another Reason for Resignation
  4. The Editor’s Corner #4: PLAY Will Transform The Market with a Post-Pandemic Edge
  5. The Editor’s Corner #5: Detriment of the Boeing 737 MAX & 787 Is Causing a 777X-Based Aftershock
  6. The Editor’s Corner #6: Qantas’ Plans For The Future Will Turn Around Negative Times
  7. The Editor’s Corner #7: The P2F Market Is Hotting Up…
  8. The Editor’s Corner #8: O’Leary Is Gunning For Another Cheap Boeing Order
  9. The Editor’s Corner #9: Ukraine Crisis: Turkish Airlines’ A350 Snap-Up from Aeroflot May Have Something To Do With A Red Carpet…
  10. The Editor’s Corner #10 – Ukraine Crisis: Lessors Will Not Win The Russia Battle
  11. The Editor’s Corner #11 – Spirit Airlines Are Slowly Changing Their Mind…
  12. The Editor’s Corner #12 – The Indian Air Cargo Market Is Hotting Up
  13. The Editor’s Corner #13 – Video Footage From RedAir Flight 203 Highlights Dangers of Carrying Luggage During an Evacuation
  14. The Editor’s Corner #14 – The Spirit-Frontier-JetBlue Battle for Merger Will Be Remembered As A Mess
  15. The Editor’s Corner #15 – Flyr, Norse & Norwegian Have Opportunity to Capitalise on SAS’ Woes
  16. The Editor’s Corner #16 – The Airbus & Boeing Battle Will Heat Up At Farnborough
  17. The Editor’s Corner #17 – My Predictions for Farnborough Were Well Off…
  18. The Editor’s Corner #18 – Why Do Airports & Airlines Fight Over Chaos When Government is to Blame?
  19. The Editor’s Corner #19 – Manchester Airport Has Resolved Its Chaotic Period – But Improvements Are Needed…
  20. The Editor’s Corner #20 – Ukraine Crisis: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Russia Return Was A Mistake From The Get-Go
  21. The Editor’s Corner #21 – More Than Meets The Eye to The Emirates-United Codeshare
  22. The Editor’s Corner #22 – Israel Banning Boeing 747s Will Have Massive Impact on Cargo Operators
  23. The Editor’s Corner #23 – Amid Their Chaos, Qantas Is Taking The Fight to Air New Zealand
  24. The Editor’s Corner #24 – The Russian Airline Industry Is Heading for a Nosedive
  25. The Editor’s Corner #25 – Downfall of Doncaster Represents The Beginning of the Regional Collapse
  26. The Editor’s Corner #26 – The A35K/Delta Order Rumour Mill Highlights Strong Momentum for Airbus
  27. The Editor’s Corner #27 – IndiGo Leasing 777s Reflective of Demand for Indian Travel
  28. The Editor’s Corner #28 – Airbus A321XLR Can Make Wizz Air A Global Success Story
  29. The Editor’s Corner #29 – A British Airways-easyJet Merger Would Change The Landscape
  30. The Editor’s Corner #30 – Boeing Has Conceded Defeat To Airbus In The Narrowbody Market?
  31. The Editor’s Corner #31 – The Chinese Regional Market Is Hotting Up

JFK’s New Terminal 6 Will Come Too Late

With the construction of JFK’s new Terminal 6 set to begin early next year, I can’t help but think that by 2026-2028, this will be too late for the airport to deal with its slot constraints at present.

I could be being too picky here, but airports like JFK and Heathrow are constantly suffering from problems surrounding slot availability, so will this new terminal help things or not?

This is the question I do hope to answer within this OpEd.

Terminal 6 As A Whole…

JFK Millenium Partners (JMP) will develop the new $4.2bn international terminal into two phases, with the first gates due to open in 2026 and the completion expected by 2028, with 10 new gates expected.

PANYNJ executive director Rick Cotton said the following in this announcement:

“The financial close on a new Terminal 6 allows us to move forward with the final piece of our plan to transform JFK International Airport into one of the world’s great global gateways.

“The $4.2 billion private investment in Terminal 6 by JFK Millennium Partners is a vote of confidence in our vision for a new JFK and in the future of our region.”

JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes praised this new Terminal build by saying the following:

“New York is in JetBlue’s DNA and inspires everything we do. Financial close allows us to help introduce another world-class terminal in our home of the Big Apple.”

“We are thrilled to work alongside the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and with JFK Millennium Partners to modernize JFK and bring our unique brand and culture to even more New Yorkers in a brand-new terminal.”

“Thanks to our Northeast Alliance with American Airlines, JetBlue’s presence in New York has never been greater, and the new Terminal 6 project will only accelerate our growth in the years to come.”

Benefits in the local area will see around 4,000 jobs created, providing wage growth of $1.9bn.

The Whole United Ordeal…

Back in October, it was announced that United Airlines would suspend operations from JFK due to the allocation of slots to other rival carriers.

“Given our current, too-small-to-be-competitive schedule out of JFK, coupled with the start of the winter season where more airlines will operate their slots as they resume JFK flying — United has made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend service at JFK,” the airline stated in a memorandum dated 30 September.

The United statement went on to refer to their recent communications with the FAA, saying: “Earlier this month, we shared an update about our efforts to advocate for additional slots that would allow us to grow the station, as well as our ask of the FAA to update its assessment of JFK’s overall capacity…”

“Our discussions with FAA have been constructive. It’s clear they are serious about operational improvements in the NY/NJ region, including JFK and EWR, which is important for all our customers.”

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby had recently sent a letter to FAA administrator Billy Nolen, urging him to increase capacity at JFK. Kirby pointed to the fact that several major infrastructure upgrades had taken place over the last 14 years, warranting the consideration of increased slot capacity.

Improvements such as runway widening, multi-entry taxiways, and high-speed runway turnoffs were cited to make United’s case for the FAA’s consideration of a capacity increase.

Is There Anything JFK Can Do To Solve Slot Constraints?

Now, let me be clear here. I know that this is an FAA issue rather than a JFK issue, but with a new terminal taking years to develop and complete, this is going to exacerbate an existing issue further.

But it is also a JFK issue because the development of the airfield may have been taking place at a slower pace than is actually needed.

The same applies to London Heathrow across the pond. Heathrow expansion is finally getting underway, but not without a lot of opposition from politicians, pressure groups, and others.

When we know that air travel is recovering at a vengeance-based pace, plans should have begun during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when fewer passengers were traveling.

This was something that Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) did through the creation of its third runway, of which the first aircraft landed there around four months ago, just as air travel in the region is beginning to pick up.

So, it is definitely the perspective of timing here. Maybe if JFK had this all in place to begin during COVID, then they could have had an earlier completion date and have been able to alleviate some of the slot constraint issues sooner.

Do We Need A Whole New York-based Airport?

I ask this question because it was something asked in the UK before the Heathrow expansion plan was approved by the UK Government.

Yes, there are plenty of airports within the New York area, especially with Newark being a massive hot spot for the likes of United Airlines at present.

But as air travel continues to increase in passenger volume in the future, maybe there is going to be a need for additional airports to cater to this demand.

Either way, I do understand that U.S aviation is different from U.K aviation, but it is definitely a point that will need raising going into the future.

Overall: It’s Definitely A Tough One To Answer…

It’s definitely a tough question to answer, as there are so many different viewpoints that need to be considered.

One thing I do know is that JFK and the relevant authorities probably could have been a little quicker off the ball and used COVID as an opportunity rather than a detriment.

Either way, the new Terminal 6 should be something to be excited about and will definitely offer some, but not a lot, of slot opportunities moving into the second half of this decade.

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