JFK Officials Warn Travelers of Traffic Disruptions Ahead of Major Airport Construction This Summer

"Building a new airport while maintaining full flight operations won’t come without impacts to passengers driving to and from JFK Airport.”

<p>Angus Mordant/Getty Images</p>

Angus Mordant/Getty Images

Officials at one of the country’s busiest airports are prepping travelers for traffic at the hub as major construction threatens to derail summer travel for millions of fliers.

The warning from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) comes amidst a $19 billion construction project to create new passenger facilities — including a pair of new international terminals and two revamped terminals — create a new ground transportation center, and build new roadways, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shared with Travel + Leisure. It also comes as more than 18 million travelers are forecast to pass through JFK this summer, representing a record and 700,000 more travelers than last year.

To mitigate disruptions, the Port Authority said its Airport Operations Center will be staffed 24/7 “to support airport-wide coordination and active traffic management, anticipating peak activity and implementing traffic mitigations in response to increased wait or queues​.” The agency will also adjust roadway construction activity when needed and coordinate flight activity, traffic delays, and public messaging.

In addition, the agency is increasing its frontline staff, including Port Authority police officers, traffic managers, and terminal customer service representatives.

“There’s no sugar coating the issue. Building a new airport while maintaining full flight operations won’t come without impacts to passengers driving to and from JFK Airport,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said in a statement shared with T+L. “But we believe that building what will be one of the truly great airports in the world will make these temporary traffic disruptions well worth the trouble for decades to come.”

The Port Authority is also encouraging travelers heading to JFK to use public transportation (both the subway and the Long Island Rail Road have direct access to the airport’s AirTrain), or to get dropped off at the Lefferts Boulevard AirTrain station, which can take passengers to the terminals for free. In June, the Port Authority will open a new “Easy Lot” at the AirTrain station.

Similarly, airlines like JetBlue are warning travelers about the construction during check-in and encouraging use of the AirTrain, according to a customer email viewed by T+L.

Once the project is complete, JFK will feature a brand-new Terminal 1, a new Terminal 6 (which will connect to Terminal 5), an expanded Terminal 4, and a revamped Terminal 8.

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