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Port Authority scales back expansion of Delta gates at Kennedy Airport Terminal 4

A major expansion of a JFK Airport terminal was scaled back Thursday as Port Authority officials continue to wrangle with a financial crisis sparked by the pandemic.

The agency’s board signed off on a $1.5 billion expansion of Terminal 4 meant to consolidate Delta Air Lines’ gates at the airport.

The approved project is a 60% reduction from a $3.8 billion expansion officials approved last year, weeks before the COVID-19 outbreak slammed the travel industry.

Consolidating Delta’s gates at Terminal 4 will let the airline move out of Terminal 2, which is to be demolished to make way for an expansion of Terminal 1, officials said. Delta is the only airline in Terminal 2.

Under the new plan for Terminal 4, Delta will get two new gates large enough for planes capable of cross-country and some international flights, and another eight gates that can only handle smaller planes used for shorter regional flights.

The previous plan would have added 16 new gates, all of them large enough to handle larger jets.

Port Authority officials also cut $300 million from a $400 million plan to upgrade the terminal, and slashed a plan to overhaul the roadway outside the terminal.

Roughly 95% of the cost of the expansion will be paid for by Delta and Terminal 4′s private operator, officials said.

The move to slash the project comes as the Port Authority expects to lose $3 billion in revenue by March 22 as a result of the pandemic.

The shortfalls have already forced the Port Authority to cut at least $2.2 billion of construction from its $37 billion 10-year capital plan that began in 2017.

“We are looking at every single project in our capital plan,” said Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton. “What we know is that, given the loss of revenue, that the Port Authority overall is suffering… It is not possible to continue to execute on the capital plan as it was originally planned.”

The number of travelers at the Port Authority’s airports, which also include the major hubs of LaGuardia and Newark International, was down by 61% last week compared to before the pandemic, Cotton said.

Ridership on PATH trains is down by 76%, he added.

Fewer riders means less revenue for the bi-state agency — and Cotton said the financial woes would worsen without relief from the federal government.

The Port Authority in March 2020 received $450 million through the CARES Act — but that money was only allowed to bail out the region’s airports and did not help stem losses at the agency’s bridges, tunnels, trains and seaports.

The $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan signed last month by President Biden did not include relief funding for bi-state agencies like the Port Authority — though Cotton said he lobbied members of Congress for aid.

The Port Authority needs $3 billion in aid to offset the losses from the pandemic and avoid more cuts over the next 18 months, officials said, noting that some of help could come from Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill.

Source (Ny Daily news)

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