Before his State of the State address in Manhattan Monday, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed his desire to make John F. Kennedy Airport “world-class.”
The Port Authority put together a decade-long, $32 billion capital plan that includes more than $5.4 billion of capital funds to transform JFK and LaGuardia airports and AirTrain rail access to LaGuardia. “Public money that will drive more than $12 billion in private investment,” said Cuomo.
Part of the plan to transform the city airports includes interconnected terminals via expansion and redevelopment; the redesigning of on-airport roadways into a “ring road” configuration to allow for quicker access to JFK’s terminals; the expansion of taxiways and new flight slots; and more meeting and conference room facilities with restaurants and retail outlets.
“New York never backs down from a challenge,” stated Cuomo. “Rather, we step up to take on the ambitious projects that are often thought to be impossible. That’s exactly what transforming JFK International Airport is all about. Our vision plan calls for the creation of a unified, interconnected airport that changes the passenger experience and makes the airport much easier to access and navigate. We are New York, and we remember the bravado that built this state in the first place, and that is the attitude that will take JFK and turn it into the 21st century airport that we deserve. I want to thank the panel, especially Chairman Dan Tishman, as well as all of our many partners who join us in this effort.”
Officials at 32BJ, the union that represents airport workers around the city, said that the renovations to the airports are nice, but workers need to be paid a fair wage with benefits.
“While we welcome Governor Cuomo’s announcement of a JFK Airport renovation project to ease travel and create temporary construction jobs at prevailing wage rates, this plan is however, also disappointing as it lacks the promised investments in airport service and security jobs needed to truly modernize JFK Airport,” read the emailed statement from 32BJ. “You cannot have a modern, world-class airport without modern jobs that pay family sustaining wages and benefits to the workers we rely on to keep the airport running.”
The union, in the wake of the airport shooting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., also hoped that security measures are taken to ensure the safety of workers and customers. Last year, Cuomo updated airport security training for New York airports, but didn’t create a comprehensive training that “fully prepares” workers for incidents, according to 32BJ.
“Getting airport security right is both attainable and in the public’s interest,” read the statement. “In fact, well-tested examples of sufficient standards that improve security at our airports already exist in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s own requirements for its directly employed security officers at local airports.”
The 32BJ statement continued, “As the state begins to implement the governor’s review team’s recommendations with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency must mandate all contractors employed in our airports to pay the living wages, benefits and sufficient hours of training that it knows are necessary to truly bolster airport security. Anything less is simply inadequate and potentially compromises the safety and security of our airports. Airport workers, taxpayers and the millions of passengers who pass through our airports every year deserve better.”