For JetBlue's international passengers at New York City's JFK airport, the terminal experience getting better. The airline hosted a ceremonial ground breaking yesterday for the expansion of their award-winning Terminal 5 facility. The extension, known as T5i, will add three new gates and—more significantly—immigration and customs facilities to the building.
JetBlue currently operates out of terminals 4 and 5 at JFK with most inbound international flights parking at terminal 4 and using the immigration facilities there. The new facility will offer access to immigration from six gates and the ability to process up to 1,200 passengers per hour. Connecting passengers will already be in the correct departure terminal, saving a transfer. And for the airline, the aircraft will be ready to load for their next departure.
JetBlue CEO David Barger spoke to the benefits associated with the new terminal, "We're excited to work with all of our partners at JFK and beyond to move forward with this project which, when completed, will make all domestic and international operations seamless and convenient for our customers and consolidate our flight operations under one roof."
The airline serves eight countries from JFK today and two more will be added this year. These passengers will have easier connections in the future. Additionally, the terminal will see one international partner—Aer Lingus—moving in to T5 in 2013. Once the T5i expansion is complete other international partners may be able to join them in the space.
Local Congressman Peter King summed up the impact of the new terminal quite well, "Very simply, this new terminal will not only provide a better travel experience for domestic and international flights but provide needed jobs to help stimulate our economy. It is a tremendous development all around."
It will be a couple years yet before T5i is open for business and passengers are able to take advantage of the promised benefits. Still, the promise of the new facility is quite impressive and, with this groundbreaking, closer than ever.
Photos courtesy of Seth Miller