Tag Archives: jfk airport

LaGuardia Airport to get $4 billion, ’21st-century’ overhaul

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

After Vice President Joe Biden compared it to a “third-world country,” LaGuardia Airport is getting a much-needed makeover bringing it to the 21st century and allowing New York City to start to once again lead in infrastructure.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined by Biden on Monday afternoon to announce that the Queens airport would be receiving a complete redesign taking it from a 1939 airport to a globally renowned, state-of-the-art facility.

“LaGuardia is slow. It’s dated. It’s a terrible front door entranceway to New York. It is a lost opportunity. It’s almost universally decried as a poor representation of an airport let alone a New York airport,” Cuomo said.

Bringing up the vice president’s comments last year that referred to LaGuardia Airport as a “third-world country,” Cuomo said that it served as a wake-up call to a city that at one point in history was leading the way in infrastructure.

“It was a strong, some would say prophetic vision, which I believe in many ways is an impetus to say to New York, ‘Get up, move.’ This is not acceptable and it’s not acceptable for New York,” Cuomo said about Biden’s comment.


An image of the current LaGuardia Airport.

In order to tackle the issue of the airport — which passengers have called dirty, cramped, hot and delayed — the governor appointed an advisory panel, led by Dan Tishman, to work with the Port Authority and come up with a new plan for LaGuardia.

After getting together and going over goals and obstacles, the group came up with the plan that would create an entirely new facility, replacing the current airport in its entirety. It would run adjacent to the Grand Central Parkway, 600 feet closer to the parkway than it is now. There would be more flight operating space, a world-class retail and hotel complex, and a unified terminal instead of the current isolated terminals. Later, there will be AirTrain and ferry access.

“The goal is not really to repair and rebuild a 1939 airport. We want an airport that is a state-of-the-art facility. We want a globally renowned airport for the next century that is worthy of the name New York and what we’re doing,” Cuomo said.

 Photo courtesy of Office of Gov. Cuomo - Kevin P. Coughlin

Photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo’s office – Kevin P. Coughlin

The project is a $4 billion public-private sector partnership with more than 50 percent of the money being privately funded. The first half of the project is expected to break ground next year with new facilities approximately in 39 months, with all construction complete within 18 months thereafter. Delta has also agreed to be a partner in the new airport and will work to redevelop their two terminals — C and D — to work together with the unified terminal.

The airport will remain open and functional during the construction phase.

“This is the greatest city in the world. It’s not a hyperbole. It’s the greatest city in the world and it requires a 21st-century infrastructure,” Biden said. “The airport has a first-class workforce, and they deserve a first-class facility to serve customers who count on them.”

In response to the project plan, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said she recommends the Port Authority expands its Aircraft Noise program throughout construction phases of LaGuardia; creates a cellphone lot; and creates more short- and long-term airport parking.

“As much as LaGuardia and JFK International are tremendous economic assets to Queens and to the region, with them has come the need to mitigate the direct, daily impacts of growth upon the thousands of families immediately surrounding them,” Katz said. “When convening this blue-ribbon panel on which I have had the pleasure to serve, the governor charged us with ensuring that community needs are addressed, especially with regard to noise and alleviating traffic congestion.”

Along with LaGuardia, Cuomo also mentioned improvements that will take place at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York, to accommodate more commercial flights to reduce traffic at LaGuardia and JFK airports and make the airport a “New York Free Trade Zone”; renovations at JFk airport such as a historic renovation of the Saarinen building being constructed to a state-of-the-art hotel; and putting to use the Republic Airport also as a “New York Free Trade Zone.”


Katz provides $200K for countdown clocks at Queens’ busiest bus stops

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Robert Pozarycki

Where’s the bus? That common question among Queens commuters will be answered with countdown clocks set to be installed at the borough’s 10 busiest bus stops within the next two years.

Borough President Melinda Katz announced on Tuesday she allocated $200,000 in the city’s 2016 fiscal year budget to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) for the purchase and installation of the real-time devices that track the estimated time of arrival for buses.

While the MTA oversees the bus system, the DOT is responsible for the countdown clocks and other bus-related infrastructure such as signage and shelters.

“Countdown clocks eliminate the anxiety of waiting for the unknown, a feeling familiar to every traveler,” Katz said in a statement. “They’ll add more predictability to any commute and will be a boon for thousands of riders in a borough that boasts some of the longest commutes to and from work.”

The DOT, through analyzing data such as ridership levels, commuter transfers, proximity to prominent facilities and dependency of bus service, will recommend to the MTA and Katz which 10 locations will receive the countdown clocks. The final locations will be determined through conversations among Katz, the DOT and the MTA.

Judged solely on activity, it figures that at least a few of the countdown clocks will be installed at transit hubs along some of Queens’ 10 busiest bus routes. According to MTA statistics, the Q58 led all other borough bus ridership in 2014, with 9,787,420 customers. The Q58, which runs between Ridgewood and Flushing, connects riders at both ends to local subway lines and intersects with Queens Boulevard, where M and R train service is available at the Grand Avenue station.

Other heavily traveled bus routes in Queens include the Q44 route between Jamaica and the Bronx, which passes through Flushing (9,240,459 riders in 2014); the Q10 between Kew Gardens and JFK Airport (7,511,855); the Q46 bus between Forest Hills and New Hyde Park (6,594,164); and the Q53 limited line between Woodside and the Rockaways (5,140,345).

The clocks are scheduled to be installed and activated in 2017. Currently, riders can find information on bus locations through the MTA’s BusTime program, available online and through a mobile app.


Man arrested after threatening to ‘kill a lot of people’ with bombs at JFK: DA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A 64-year-old Manhattan resident is behind bars after he called in nearly a dozen bomb threats to JFK Airport this month, stating that he wanted to “kill a lot of people,” including police officers, prosecutors announced Monday.

Philip Ngom, 64, of West 116th Street, was arraigned Saturday on 11 counts each of first-degree falsely reporting an incident and making a terroristic threat.

Ngom allegedly called 911 eleven times between June 9 and 24, sometimes more than once per day, and making a bomb threat, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. He reportedly threatened to plant chemical bombs and/or explosives containing nails at the south Queens airport.

On June 17, Ngom phoned 911 around 7 a.m., claiming he had three chemical bombs in his BMW and threatened to drive his car to JFK, saying that “I am going to kill a lot of people at the airport today. It’s a pleasure to kill,”  the district attorney said. About an hour later, he made another call, stating, “Muslims are on their way to place a bomb at JFK today.”

During another call to 911, on June 21, he allegedly said that it was his mission to kill police officers and told the operator that “I have a naked police officer in the basement….I am going to kill a lot of officers tonight. I have three bombs I want to place at JFK Airport.”

Ngom is currently being held on $750,000 bail and faces up to seven years in prison.

“This individual’s alleged actions not only caused undue alarm and disruption to thousands of air travelers, but resulted in extensive police resources being wasted to investigate phony threats,” said Port Authority Chief Security Officer Belfiore. “Through the painstaking work of our PAPD detectives, we were able to track him down and will see that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”


Shake Shack to open location in Queens Center

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Evan Sung

Something is shaking at Queens Center.

Shake Shack, the critically acclaimed “roadside” burger stand which has locations throughout the United States and world, has confirmed it will be opening in 2016 at Queens Center in Elmhurst.

Although Shake Shacks have opened at sites in JFK Airport and Citi FIeld, this will be the company’s first stand-alone location in Queens.

The establishment, which has five locations in Manhattan, is known for its 100 percent all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus beef burgers, crinkly cut fries and much more.


$470,000 in heroin seized at JFK cargo facility over one weekend

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Nearly half a million dollars worth of heroin was sniffed out in food packaging over a single weekend this month inside an express cargo facility located at JFK Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced.

As CBP officers were conducting searches at the cargo facility on June 6, a K-9 alerted them to the presence of narcotics within packages of a powdered, honey-flavored drink. A brown powder was found inside one of the packages and tested positive for heroin.

According to CBP, the same dog discovered heroin within Tortrix chips and jelly powder, and a short time later, found the drugs inside a shipment of powdered drink mix packages.

The following day, another K-9 detected narcotics in a shipment manifested as Risitos chip seasoning. Inside, several packages of cookies and seasoning mix were discovered that produced a brown powdery substance, which tested positive for heroin.

In total, according to CBP, the four heroin seizures had an approximate weight of 16 pounds and an estimated street value of $470,000.

No arrests have been made, but the seizures are part of an ongoing investigation.


Airplane noise study to examine reach of aircraft noise

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Representatives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) gave a presentation on the Part 150 Airport Noise Compatibility Studies for LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International (JFK) airports during Monday’s meeting of the Queens Borough Board at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

“Part 150 of the Federal Regulations enable airport operators to undertake studies that provide the public with information about existing and future non-compatible land uses around airports and to create measures that reduce and prevent the introduction of new non-compatible land uses,” explained Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

This study will examine the levels of airplane noise around both LGA and JFK, create noise exposure maps (NEMs) for the areas and develop noise compatibility programs (NCPs) for impacted land uses within areas with levels of high noise.

“The Port Authority is conducting these two studies with the goal of finding potential mitigation measures to reduce levels of aircraft noise exposure that are deemed significant,” said Edward Knoesel, senior manager of environmental and noise programs for the Aviation Department at PANYNJ. “And that is the federal government that makes determination.”

The study aims to find how land is being used within high noise level areas around the airports. Certain land uses, such as a cargo factory, are acceptable in high noise level areas, while other land uses, such as residential buildings, should not be allowed there.

Information from all 2014 flight operations from the airports will be used to help create the NEMs, which will be presented to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2016. FAA regulations also require PANYNJ to also present a map for a forecast of operations five years into the future.

The NEMs use a day-night average sound level (DNL) to figure out how much noise is concentrated over each area. Certain land uses within the DNL 65, which is a day-night average of 65 decibels, are considered incompatible.

Once the noise impacts are assessed, measures to reduce aircraft noise and limit its impact on surrounding areas, through noise abatement or noise mitigation, will be considered. Noise abatement reduces noise from the source, in this case airplanes, and noise mitigation helps bring down noise levels inside of the structures themselves, through possible soundproofing building materials.

These options, along with others, will be explored in the NCP section of the study.

“The noise compatibility planning explores operational, that means how to move the aircraft, land use and administrative measures to minimize aircraft noise exposure in that area,” Knoesel continued. “The FAA approves individual measures…they may approve some, they may disapprove others.”

The FAA has 180 days to review the proposed measures and either approve, disapprove or request more time to examine the measures.

Once measures are accepted, implementation will begin.


JFK AirTrain to shut down tonight through Monday for repairs

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Ad Meskens

Travelers will have a harder time than usual getting around John F. Kennedy International Airport beginning Thursday night and into the weekend, as much of the AirTrain system will be closed for repairs.

The shutdown takes effect at 8 p.m. tonight along the JFK AirTrain between Federal Circle and all airline terminals serving the Central Terminal Area. There also won’t be any AirTrain service to and from the Howard Beach and Lefferts Boulevard stations. The disruptions will continue through 4 p.m. Monday, June 8.

Shuttle buses will replace AirTrain service between the closed AirTrain stations and the terminals. AirTrain service will operate normally between Federal Circle and Jamaica Station at all times except from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 7, when that line will be closed.

According to the Port Authority, the shutdown is necessary to perform system maintenance work. Additional JFK customer service representatives and Port Authority employees will be on duty at the airport and affected stations during the disruption to help customers get around.

All travelers heading to and from JFK are urged to allow additional travel time and prepare for any delays. Click here or call 888-JFK-INFO (535-4636) for further information.


Two JFK employees arrested for stealing pairs of Kevin Durant sneakers

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/SNKR_BASE


Two employees at JFK airport were charged Friday with grand larceny for stealing 12 pairs of Nike’s unreleased Kevin Durant “KD8″ sneakers.

According to prosecutors, the suspects — Calvin Colain Nelson, 23, of Springfield Gardens and Audley Russell, 47, of Jamaica — tried selling the sneakers through an Instagram account on Sunday, May 10, a day after the sneakers arrived at the airport.

The sneakers, which are valued at $200 each and not expected to be released until July, were being transported from a factory in Taiwan to Ontario, Canada, via JFK Airport. Officials were able to track down the JFK employees after a member of the Port Authority Police saw an Instagram picture displaying the serial number on the stolen box.

The two men were charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and released without bail following arraignment. They each face up to four years in prison if convicted.

Both defendants were ordered to return to court on June 18.


A video posted by SNKR_BASE 《S.B》 (@snkr_base) on


Congresswoman Meng pushes for EPA action on airplane noise

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

Congresswoman Grace Meng has reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to push for an increase in the agency’s efforts to control noise pollution from airplanes and helicopters.

Residents from Bayside, Flushing and surrounding neighborhoods have reported daily disruption from roaring, low-flying planes since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a route change in December 2012 that affected departing LaGuardia Airport traffic.

The new routes adhere to a required three-mile separation between planes coming into John F. Kennedy International Airport and planes taking off from LaGuardia Airport while using a new, precise navigation method.

Meng appealed to the EPA because the agency has the authority to investigate and study noise and its effect and respond to inquiries on matters related to noise under the federal Noise Control Act of 1972. The congresswoman charged that the FAA did not have the resources to properly improve the situation in north Queens, and that a lack of coordination between the aviation authority and airport operators is detrimental to any possible progress.

“[In] order to properly protect human health and the environment from excessive noise, the EPA must fully include flight noise in its jurisdiction,” Meng said. “I have no doubt that its involvement is the best way forward to coordinate the efforts of air carriers, the FAA and airport operators.”

In response to the outcry from the community after the route change, in March 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to double its sound monitors and create an office to address soaring noise complaints.

As part of the ongoing study, the Port Authority has since collected reports in an online noise complaint management system powered by PlaneNoise, an aviation noise consultancy specializing in airport noise complaint management solutions.


JFK Airport cleaner busted for stealing $10K worth of mini-liquor bottles

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A Brooklyn woman stole $10,000 worth of mini-liquor bottles over a three-year period while she cleaned planes at JFK Airport, prosecutors said.

Juanette Cullum, 48, is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, according to the district attorney’s office.

Police were tipped off to Cullum’s alleged theft and visited her home, where she confessed to taking the liquor and other miscellaneous items over a three-year period, prosecutors said. Cops found nearly 1,500 mini-bottles inside a closet in her home.

Cullum, who is employed by Air Service Cleaning at JFK Airport and is responsible for cleaning American Airlines planes in Terminal 8, allegedly took about $10,000 in stolen liquor.

If convicted, she faces up to seven years in prison.

This was not the first big bust involving miniature drinks. Back in 2012, authorities collared 18 airport workers who allegedly pilfered thousands of mini-liquor bottles and duty-free items from JFK Airport.


JFK passenger caught with $30K of cocaine in running shoes

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of U. S. Customs and Border Protection

This traveler may not be able to run away from the drug conviction he’s facing.

Thenga Adams had just arrived at JFK Airport on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana, on April 7 when he was stopped by U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers for an inspection, officials said.

During the inspection, CBP officers found several pairs of running shoes in his luggage that contained a white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine, according to CBP. The seized drugs totaled about 2 pounds and had an estimated value of $30,000.

Adams was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges, CBP officials said.



Travelers left $76K in change behind at NYC area airport checkpoints last year: TSA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


New York City travelers better watch what they are leaving behind the next time they go through the area’s airports.

In the fiscal year 2014, passengers departing John F. Kennedy International Airport left behind $42,550 in loose change at security checkpoints, the highest amount in the nation, according to the TSA.

Coming in second was Los Angeles International Airport with $41,506.64 in change, followed by San Francisco International Airport with $34,889.63.

Though New York’s other area airports didn’t make the top 10 list,  passengers who departed LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports still left behind an impressive hunk of change at their checkpoints — $16,786.05 and $16,669.72, respectively.

In total for the fiscal year 2014, travelers left nearly $675,000 in change behind at airport checkpoints across the country, according to an annual report that tracks the money travelers leave behind. The number is up from last year, and has been increasing since at least 2010, when $409,085.56 in change was forgotten at airport checkpoints.

airport chart

Chart courtesy of TSA

The TSA says it makes a full effort to reunite passengers with items that they leave at checkpoints, but some of these items, including loose coins that are removed from their pockets and typically left in bins during the security screening process, will go unclaimed.

The unclaimed items are documented and turned into the TSA financial office. In 2005, Congress gave TSA the ability to expend unclaimed money for security operations.



Suspect robs Hilton near JFK: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who is suspected of stealing $500 from a Hilton Garden Inn near JFK Airport Monday night.

The robbery occurred at a hotel at 148-18 134th St., near S. Conduit Avenue in Jamaica, at about 6:50 p.m.

The suspect entered the Hilton and showed a note to the front desk employee demanding cash. He then took $500 before fleeing in an unknown direction, police said.

Authorities described the suspect as a black man, about 25 to 35 years old, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium build.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


Fake cabbie told passengers AirTrain was down to solicit fares: DA

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

An unlicensed livery cab driver was busted after he allegedly lied to JFK Airport passengers by telling them the AirTrain wasn’t running and that he was a Super Shuttle driver, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

Barnabas Laurent, 47, of Brentwood, Long Island, has been arraigned on charges of third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree criminal impersonation, third-degree criminal trespass and unlawful solicitation of ground transportation, District Attorney Richard Brown announced Monday.

Laurent was allegedly spotted approaching several passengers at the airport’s arrivals section in Terminal 1 on Saturday to try to solicit fares. According to the criminal complaint, he falsely told passengers that the AirTrain wasn’t working and said that he was a Super Shuttle driver. Laurent then offered to take them to the Jamaica train station or elsewhere.

Inside Laurent’s vehicle, a Super Shuttle rate book, receipt books and other material with the Super Shuttle logo were allegedly found.

“It is important that travelers visiting New York City are provided with a safe and welcoming atmosphere at our airports,” Brown said. “Unregulated taxis and unscrupulous drivers — who are not properly licensed and do not carry appropriate insurance — put riders at risk.”

Laurent, who faces up to a year in jail if convicted, is being held in lieu of $500 bail.


First annual QNS Real Estate Conference features Port Authority director Patrick Foye

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Dominick Totino

It may have seemed like a cheap dig at the time, but Vice President Biden’s recent quip that LaGuardia Airport is fit for a Third World nation was on the money, said the man in charge of the city’s airports, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye.

Foye, the keynote speaker at the first QNS Real Estate Conference on Thursday, sponsored by The Queens Courier, conceded that the city’s oldest airport is in need of a major overhaul — and he pledged that the revamp will get done.

“Queens has been a gateway to the world for more than 100 years,” Foye told more than 350 real estate executives who turned out for the breakfast forum at Terrace on the Park. “The only way to keep that moniker is to update and improve the borough’s airports.”

“Vice President Biden made a comment, which sadly I happen to agree with in large part, which is, that parts of LaGuardia look like a Third World nation,” Foye said.

This statement was made about the central terminal building in LaGuardia Airport. In response, the Port Authority is currently looking to do a redesign of that building.

The current terminal is decades old and vastly outdated. A redesign is greatly needed, Foye pointed out, and the Port Authority is working on getting that built.

“The central terminal building has long outlived its usefulness,” Foye admitted. He continued by saying that the central terminal building was “built for a different generation of aircraft and for a far smaller number of passengers coming through on an annual basis.”

Another project the Port Authority is focusing on is the creation of a proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia, connecting the airport to the Willets Point station for the No. 7 subway and the nearby Long Island Rail Road station.

Foye believes that a public transportation option from Midtown Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport will help reduce congestion on roadways and generate revenue for the city. He went on to talk about the Port Authority’s Capital Plan that funds major transportation projects in both New York and New Jersey.

“Last year the Port Authority board approved a capital plan of $27.6 billion over 10 years. That includes $8 billion for our airports, and $5 billion alone for JFK and LaGuardia,” he said.

Foye said the capital funds will be instrumental in making important strides in improving Queens’ airports.

There will be major runway projects conducted at JFK, the construction of a new electric substation at LaGuardia along with the completion of new parking structures at the airports, he explained.

With Queens being named the top U.S. tourist destination by Lonely Planet, the Port Authority is committed to updating the area airports to better receive and service those travelers.

The event, co-hosted by The Queens Courier and the Real Estate Board of New York, was focused on the current real estate boom taking place in the borough.

Borough President Melinda Katz, who opened the morning conference, said Queens is “the hot and on-the-move borough when it comes to real estate in the city of New York.”

She went on to explain some of the borough’s top assets driving the new real estate boon, including museums, cultural diversity and what she believes is the “biggest asset,” the aviation industry.

In 2014, more than 80 million travelers came through both of Queens’ airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.