Delta Wants Several Airlines Out of New York JFK Terminal 4

Delta’s operations at New York JFK are split across two separate terminals, terminal 2 and terminal 4. Much of short haul domestic is in terminal 2, while transcons and international flying is done out of terminal 4.

Terminal 4 was completed in 2001, and is managed by Schipol Group — it’s the first US airline terminal managed by a foreign company. Since then 9 international and 11 regional gates have been added. The Airtrain stop is inside the terminal, versus across the street.

Eventually terminal 2 is slated to be closed. Delta wants all of its operations under one roof. And they want all of SkyTeam under their roof too. In order to accomplish that they need to push out several airlines that currently operate out of terminal 4 and that includes relocating carriers that operate Airbus A380s (Asiana, Emirates, Etihad) to A380-capable gates — which could mean terminal 1, which would be possible if SkyTeam airlines Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, China Eastern Airlines, Korean Air, and Saudia moved to terminal 4.

Two weeks ago Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees,

We built terminal 4 with a view that that would be a SkyTeam hub at JFK, that we’d be able to attract all of the SkyTeam partners in. However some of them have long standing commitments such as Air France to the terminal 1 facility, Korean is in terminal 1, and we’ve got to create space for them to move in. I talk to the Port a lot, I talk to Schipol who’s one of our partners in terminal 4, about how do we get some of the other carriers that are not in the SkyTeam out of terminal 4 to move more partners in.

..We’re eventually going to have to consolidate and move out of terminal 2 so we’re looking at building more space on the property in terminal 4 and expanding.. long long term I hope we get all our SkyTeam partners together.. I think it would give us a big competitive advantage.

Inside New York JFK Terminal 2

Of course it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Delta “built terminal 4” they partnered in the most recent expansions.

However if Bastian has his way Air India, Asiana Airlines, Avianca, Copa, EgyptAir, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Air Serbia, Caribbean Airlines, El Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kuwait, Sun Country, and others would have to find new homes.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — “A bit of a stretch”? How about delusional and Trumpian. I also hope they can put their collection of crappy airlines under one roof and that I can then avoid it.

  2. Certainly makes business sense having one team under the same roof–transfers, mobility, synergies,

    I believe Delta recently accomplished the same at LAX.

  3. So Delta expects everyone to do what Delta wants, and those who don’t like it can go suck eggs, eh? Sounds about right. This level of arrogance is revolting. Something has gotta be done.

  4. Obscene!
    I once had a 4 hour delay at terminal 1 waiting for my outbound SQ flight to get a gate. The equipment had been on the ground for 11 hours but the gates were in use by other more recent arrivals. Juxtapose that situation with 3 380’s waiting to load.
    I am not in the loop but I strongly doubt that Delta built terminal 4 and that they have any right to do this.

  5. It would be nice to have Star Alliance T1, SkyTeam T4, OneWorld wherever. If that vision were to happen long-term, they could put in a Sky Club that does not require a half-marathon to reach.

    I used to love the feeling of all those international airlines out of T4, a bit of surprise and people watching at each check-in counter and gate. That has been diminished with Delta taking over so much of it.

  6. @Gene and @Ryan, shows your lack of business sense. Every business leader wants their operation to be as efficient as possible.

  7. Good looking out, Ed! Expand the left side of the terminal and swap rest of SkyTeam out of T1! Absolutely a good idea and T1 is one of the better terminals for departures at JFK. At the agreed price, what’s so wrong with this from any perspective? It is goos news.

  8. @ Jr — I didn’t say it was a bad idea, but Delta didn’t build Terminal 4 and Ed Bastian is apparently delusional.

  9. There are a lot of complaints about JFK, most of them exaggerated. Other than problems GETTING to the airport, the experience is generally okay (“good” would probably be an exaggeration). But the thing that does always strike me as odd is the almost random scattering of partner/alliance airlines across the various terminals. A lot of it is historical: many of these airlines were in their separate terminals before they partnered. But other airports have managed to get it right: the Star Alliance Terminal 2 at LHR is perhaps the shining example. You would think the airlines and the Port Authority could work together at JFK to get airlines in their “correct” terminals. I guess not!

  10. Those airlines could move over to Terminal 8 – plenty of space there. That may allow Sky Team to consolidate into Terminal 4.

  11. I used to work in terminal services for a major airline. We used to use the old saying “Everybody has their price” meaning Delta needs to offer them new carpeting, new jet bridges, ticket counters,etc. to move.

  12. First of all, Delta will need to convince TWO (2) of the four (4) co-equal partner airlines that formed a joint-venture management company to operate/manage Terminal One at JFK Airport whose name is, Terminal One Group Associates (or “TOGA” as its commonly referred to), to sell their interest, or come up with some other solution to their ownership interests in TOGA.

    These four (4) airlines are:

    1.) Air France (its flights use T1; KLM’s use T4);
    2.) Japan Airlines;
    3.) Korean Airlines;
    4.) Lufthansa;

    Of course, Delta owns 10% of Air France-KLM Group, with both Air France and Korean Airlines being prominent partners in the SkyTeam alliance AND also having separate, anti-trust immunized joint ventures in their respective trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific markets.

    With the plan announced to date by our Masterbuilder Governor, Andrew Cuomo, being at least two (2) super terminals at opposite ends of JFK, with one being continguous from the current TOGA T1 site, and the area between T1 and T4 (including the current Delta T2 and the vacant tarmac space where the former Pan American World Airways Worldport, or T3, was); and the other announced super Terminal encompassing the area from the current JetBlue Terminal 5 to British Airways’ Terminal 7 (and filling in the area where the former I.M. Pei designed Terminal 6 once stood [aka the National Airlines ‘Sundrome’ – it was magnificent in its time]; note the section of JFK where AA’s Terminal 8 is was omitted from plans announced by Cuomo to date), perhaps the area where the current T1 building is could house the displaced, and to some extent, unaligned/loosely aligned airlines that Delta seeks to have relocated out of Terminal 4.

    In practical terms, Delta is correct in seeking to consolidate its alliance partners, and especially its two (2) anti-trust immunized joint venture alliance partners, Air France and Korean Airlines, under one (1) roof at Terminal 4, as this would allow for seamless, airside connections with its joint venture partners that currently require exiting the respective terminals, taking the JFK Airtrain (which for T2 also requires going outside altogether), and then going through security again.

    And who wants to do that?

    All the time I see conections at JFK between Delta and its alliance partners at JFK that require transiting their different terminals, and I avoid booking those connctions like the plague for all but the savviest (and heartiest) flyers who know what they’re dealing with, but find the usually much lower airfares a hassle worth trading off versus “easier” connections that often price much higher from east coast cities!

    So, Delta’s push to bring its alliance partners, and especially those with which it has anti-trust immunized joint venture alliances, under one roof at T4 certainly makes sense.

    They just need to find a way to make it worthwhile for the four (4) other airlines that co-own TOGA to buy into a plan that allows for a future reallocation of gates and other facilities at the envisioned super terminal between T1 and T4 such that its SkyTeam Alliance partners are clustered closer together, while those displaced elsewhere at JFK (at T4 – or elsewhere such as BA’s T7 whenever that airline can be persuaded to FINALLY part with its longtime home that it built originally, and has renovated several times over [$250 million 1998-2002], including the $65 million “refresh” currently underway).

    Of course, Emirates, with its code-share alliance with JetBlue should move to any future JetBlue controlled facility, once Airbus A380 compatible gates are built anyway.

    Needless to say, ALL THREE (3) of NYC’s major airports (JFK, LGA & EWR) desperately need rebuilding practically from the ground up for many things, starting with all of the subpar passenger terminals that when compared to airports the world over are laughable and embarrassing – especially for a city that proclaims itself as being “Capital of the World”.

    So new passenger terminals are very much welcome!

    But the continued reliance on a third rate, amateur like “AirTrain” is pathetic when compared to cities the world over that have one-seat, one fare, direct trains serving their airports instead of the super lame, cheesy AirTrain that Bombardier operates and must be making beaucoup cash from since they’re not just planning to KEEP this ridiculous “AirTrain” at JFK indefinitely, our current Governor, Cuomo, is absolutely steadfast in his insistence on building ANOTHER one to serve LaGuardia Airport from – wait for it – Citifield (aka “The Valley of Ashes” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”) near Flushing via either the already over crowded 7 train that operates LOCAL in one direction at all times or the extremely limited frequency of the Long Island Railroad’s Port Washington branch that serves Long Island’s “Gold Coast” of Great Neck/Kings Point, Manhassett, Plandome, and Port Washington/Sands Point – with Kings Point and Sands Point being “West Egg” and “East Egg”, respectively in Fitzgerald’s classic book).

    Of course, our hard headed, and stubborn Guv refuses to accept the wisdom of virtually every independent transportation expert that the LGA AirTrain is a ridiculous boondoggle destined to be a White Elephant from Day 1.

    I mean, seriously, is anyone really going to want to take the circuitous, scnenic route via Citifield in Flushing (much further mileage wise from anywhere in Manhattan), pay two (2) fares of not less than $2.75 for subway plus $5 for the AirTrain (at today’s fares that are scheduled to increase next year for subways and LIRR commuter trains), or not less than $7.75 for the subway/AirTrain combo or NOT less than $9.25 (off peak; peak trains even higher by $4-6 depending on fare zone ultimately used) for the LIRR/AirTrain combo when they can pay just one fare of $2.75 for the existing subway/bus options that without traffic will take about the same time as the proposed AirTrain since they use more direct routes, and under most scenarios take 20-30 mins longer than the proposed highest cost Long Island Railroad/AirTrain connection during rush hours, which during rush hours will be ~$13-15 versus $2.75 (or perhaps $3-3.25 by 2022 with the LIRR/AirTrain combo then also being correspondingly higher, say $16-18)?!?!

    Raise your hands if you think THAT insanity will actually work!

    Yet, that’s one major problem with our current governor’s plans to redevelop two (2) of NYC’s three (3) major airports:

    These pathetic “AirTrains”!

    Imagine that – the “Capital of the World” has the worst possible mass transit options when compared to cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Washington DC – just to name but a few of the many, many cities larger and smaller than NYC that have 21st century direct rail links serving their airports!

    Anyhow, that’s but one of two problems most experts cite as very serious deficiencies in NYC’s current revelopment plans for our two (2) major airports.

    The other serious flaw is the complete and total lack of attention (as in literally nary a peep) for consequential runway improvements and/or expansions.

    Of course, JFK is now nearing capacity, and already is slot controlled between 3-9pm.

    And everyone knows that LGA has long been overcapacity, slot controlled all day long, and its short, intersecting runways that predate the jet age, DESPERATELY need lengthening, if not total reconfiguring and expansion.

    So, yeah, new terminals are NICE – but are just one piece of a far from complete puzzle that our current governor is coming up very short sighted in addressing with his ambitious plans for super nice looking, legacy/vanity trophy terminals at JFK and LGA.

    But, he’s hardly doing much to improve anything else that matters at these vital economic developement engines other than a last century (and super lame) AirTrain when single seat, one fare direct rail links are now standard the world over; or equally important the massive runway improvements and redevelopment that long ago were desperately needed.

    If we want to be the “Capital of the World” we must have airports that speak to that reality beyond gleaming terminals that will still be every bit as unpleasant to get to in the future as the long have been.

    This means REAL trains instead of pretend/amateur hour trains and REAL work instead of cosmetic work on the runways at both of these airports!

  13. Howard Miller is really knowledgeable about the New York city terminals. As he points out, the train access to JFK is really bad. I take the E-train, but more than once, it dumped me into a bus stop, which then eventually went to the air train. No warning, nothing. Imagine carrying 60 pound luggage down the stairs, across the street to the bus stop, then up the bus, and so forth. It was a miracle that I made my plane.

    But still, one of my least favorite terminal is Heathrow. Endless tunnels and lines. No way to do a connection in less than two hours.

    Frankfort is a total zoo. I think my old Lenovo laptop has been checked for explosives 4 or 5 times there. Lounges are so overcrowded, that I start thinking about leaving the lounges to get some peace and quiet.

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