The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said JetBlue would operate the 640,000-square-foot, 26-gate terminal under a 34-year lease and that the agency would help finance part of the project's cost.Construction is scheduled to start next year.In a long-awaited move, the Port Authority said the project would be built on a 70-acre tract in JFK's central terminal area and would include a 1,500-car garage, a connecting bridge to the AirTrain and tunnels to the former TWA Flight Center, an official New York City landmark.The Flight Center, also known as Terminal 5, with its bird-in-flight design created by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, was dedicated in 1962 in the early years of passenger jet flight, and closed when TWA ceased operations in 2001."Our plan is to make it possible for our customers to pass through the Flight Center and to use ticket kiosks to be installed there en route to departure gates, perhaps even to establish primary customer service in the Flight Center although it will not be the primary entrance to the new terminal," said Todd Burke of JetBlue.The project will rehabilitate Terminal 5, the former TWA Flight Center ensuring that the renowned building remains what the Port Authority called an "airport centerpiece."The renovation of the former TWA Flight Center will involve an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, the New York State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Port Authority said.Earlier this year, JetBlue had been discussing moving its corporate headquarters to downtown Jamaica near the newly opened AirTrain station. The transfer, which southeast Queens business leaders and the Bloomberg administration had been pushing for, was delayed because the airline is committed to a lease for its Forest Hills site through 2012."We're proud to support this new project which will bring a new state-of-the-art terminal to JFK and preserve Eero Saarinen's historical building so that generations to come can marvel at this architectural masterpiece," said Gov. George Pataki. "JetBlue Airways' decision to enter into a long term lease agreement is outstanding news."David Neeleman, founder and chairman of JetBlue, said "the world has just one icon that truly epitomizes both New York City and the excitement of aviation and that's JFK's Terminal 5. This is an exciting day for JetBlue's more than 7,000 crewmembers as we marry our industry's rich history with our own aspirations for the future."It was the largest project to be announced for JFK since tens of billions of dollars in construction were pledged by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air Lines and others in the two years prior to the attack on the World Trade Center. Some of the projects were delayed or cut back when the airline industry suffered a monumental blow in the aftermath of the attack.Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@times
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