Tag Archives: jfk airport

Flight 587: Marking 12 years since the tragedy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Twelve years ago, Flight 587 crashed and took the lives of hundreds. Today, loved ones left behind said the pain never goes away.

“The time passes, but the pain is still there in your heart,” said Anne Espinal, who gathered with others at the flight memorial site on Tuesday.

Espinal lost her mother in the crash. She had just turned 50 three days before.

“It’s like losing your best friend,” Espinal said, holding back tears.

She came together with dozens of others on a snowy day of remembrance, carrying brightly colored flowers and tissues as the names of the 265 victims were read.

On November 12, 2001 Flight 587 took off from John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport and began its trip to the Dominican Republic. It crashed in the Belle Harbor neighborhood shortly after takeoff, and stands as one of the country’s deadliest aviation incidents.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the crowd of family and friends as they placed flowers near the names of their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends.

“Coming here every year is good support,” Espinal said. “It makes me feel really good. I feel like she’s here now. I know she’s watching me.”

 

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JFK Airport workers rally for fair wages


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dave Sanders SEIU 32BJ

David Harrison has worked as a skycap at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport for three years, and is struggling to live with his $4.15 hourly pay.

Four days a week, Harrison helps passengers with their bags from the curb to their respective ticket counters. He relies heavily on tips from these incoming travelers, but said those decrease as the vacation season winds down. On a slow day, he said he gets roughly $30 to $40 in tips. He uses his pay to cover transportation to and from work, his cell phone bill and any household items.

Harrison, who works for American Airline service contractor Alstate Maintenance in JFK’s Terminal 1, said that overall, he is being underpaid. In a complaint filed with the Attorney General’s office, he and other Alstate skycaps allege the contractor violated the state’s minimum wage law for tipped employees.

The state requires employers pay tipped employees $5.50 an hour.

At JFK, Alstate also employs terminal and cabin cleaners, and wheelchair and baggage agents at Terminals 1, 4, 7 and 8. All workers allege the contractors have violated their pay rights.
Alstate workers, elected officials and members of local union SEIU 32BJ gathered at JFK on Thursday, November 7 to call on the airline and terminal operators for better treatment.

Harrison, who receives about $80 a week outside of tips, said that when a baggage cart breaks, they are forced to pay about $40 out of pocket for repairs. Once, he asked a supervisor for assistance in the fix, but was ignored. Additionally, skycaps allege they must frequently assist passengers in need of wheelchair assistance when a chair agent is not available.

These agents receive the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Skycaps don’t get paid any extra to assist with wheelchairs.

“We’re doing two jobs, and we’re not getting paid right for one,” Harrison said.

He added that fellow skycaps have “worked chairs all day, and they don’t make anything in tips.”

“I can’t have workers in my district working for poverty wages,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards.

Richards added his office has received reports that airport workers have experienced intimidation and harassment from their employers when they try to stand up for themselves.

“We just want what’s right for us at the end of the day,” Harrison said.

Alstate Maintenance could not be reached for comment.

 

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BP Marshall joins chorus for FAA exemption


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Borough President Helen Marshall has joined the ranks of Queens congressmembers who are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to exempt two major city airports from a new federal rule.

“While the FAA’s Regional Administrator for our area has made an effort to work with my office and others in the borough, I believe that this is not the time to evade community input,” Marshall said in a letter to the administration.

The proposed FAA provision, officials said, would establish two new categorical exclusions, which would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight changes without conducting environmental studies.

Marshall and Congressmembers Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley wrote a letter last week calling for the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, to exempt LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports from the order.

A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a drastic increase in air noise.

“To implement such changes without first subjecting their potential impacts to the rigorous scrutiny of experts and the public during the environmental review process would, in my opinion, be irresponsible,” Marshall said.

Queens residents still have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting www.regulations.gov or faxing comments to 202-493-2251.

Community Boards 7 and 13 passed a resolution this week urging the governor to support a bill that would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a noise study.

The boards join Community Board 11, which passed a resolution earlier this month.

 

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Police investigating machine gun found at JFK Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Police are trying to figure out how a machine gun ended up inside a ceiling at JFK Airport.

A contractor discovered the weapon while working in a non-passenger area of Terminal 1 around 10 a.m. Thursday, said a Port Authority of New York & New Jersey spokesperson.

The Mac-11 subcompact machine pistol was hidden in a plastic box inside the ceiling of a locked office closet.

There was no ammunition found in or around the weapon.

Port Authority police are trying to determine if it’s a functioning gun and from where it came.

 

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Pols call on FAA to exempt Queens airports from proposed federal rule


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Steve Israel’s office

Two major city airports should be exempt from a new federal rule that would allow flight changes to be made without an environmental review, Queens congressmembers are demanding.

Representatives Steve Israel, Grace Meng and Joseph Crowley are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue to implement change impact studies at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports.

A proposed FAA provision would establish two new categorical exclusions to avoid an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, elected officials said.

The new rule, officials said, would essentially allow the FAA to permanently implement new flight procedures without conducting environmental studies.

“The FAA should be focused on reducing noise and air pollution,” Israel said, “not making it easier to bypass vital environmental studies.”

The congressmembers said the head of the FAA, Administrator Michael Huerta, has the ability to exempt the two airports, which use “the most congested airspace in the country.”

A categorical exclusion was applied to a newly approved flight path over Queens called the TNNIS IV climb. Residents said the change has brought upon a barrage of low-flying planes and an increase in air noise.

“It is outrageous that the FAA is seeking greater leeway to exempt itself from vital environmental studies which determine whether or not new airplane routes — and the accompanying noise — adversely impact affected communities,” Meng said.

“The agency’s plan to further sidestep this critical process is a slap in the face to all who live and work underneath new flight patterns,” she continued.

Queens residents have until September 30 to submit public comment to the FAA on the proposed rule by visiting http://www.regulations.gov.

They can also fax comments to 202-493-2251 or mail them to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

“There isn’t a single plane that comes or goes from our airports that doesn’t fly directly over someone’s house,” Crowley said.

“Given this reality,” Crowley continued, “whenever the FAA is considering changes to the way flights arrive at and depart from our airports, the agency must thoroughly study the impacts it will have on our communities, especially with respect to noise.”

 

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JFK celebrates 50th anniversary of renaming, 50 million passengers


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of JFK Chamber of Commerce

Nearly 50 years has passed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the renaming of JFK Airport, as well as the 50 millionth passenger traveling through the international hub.

Russo’s On The Bay, located at 162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard, will host a luncheon on Tuesday, September 10 to commemorate all three occasions. Additionally, a commemorative journal will be published to memorialize the occasion, featuring guest speaker David Neeleman, CEO of Azul Airlines and co-founder of JetBlue.

Neeleman is additionally credited with building five airlines and will return to JFK to speak about his experiences.

And Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, grandson of JFK, will be a featured speaker.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was fatally shot on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas during a presidential motorcade. A 10-month investigation concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger and assassinated the nation’s 35th president.

Just over a month after the incident on December 24, the borough’s Idlewild Aiport, named after the Idlewild golf course it displaced, was rebranded as the John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“When we talk about the notoriety of the airport, it’s important that we identify it’s been 50 years since it was renamed after JFK,” said Bob Caton, president of the JFK Chamber of Commerce.

Built in 1942, the airport was initially supposed to be 1,000 acres to relieve the overcrowded LaGuardia Airport, but by completion, it had grown to five times that size.

In 2012, JFK International took in 49,292,733 passengers, making it the 13th busiest airport in the world and the sixth busiest in the country. This year, JFK officials expect 50 million passengers to travel through their gates.

“Airports are not really seen as a vessel for commerce, but JFK is a vehicle that allows that to happen,” said Caton, who noted that the 50 millionth passenger is a “big event” for the airport.

“We’re very happy to have both 50/50 events happen this year,” he said.

As for the next 50 years — and beyond, Caton said, “as we move forward we want to show people we will be fresh and look toward the future.”

 

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JFK baggage handlers charged with stealing from passenger luggage


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Seven men who worked as contract baggage handlers at JFK Airport have been charged with stealing cash, jewelry and electronics from passenger luggage.

Following multiple customer complaints of theft to El Al Airlines, the Israeli carrier the men were working for at the time, a camera was installed in the baggage hold, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

The men, who were responsible for unloading and loading bags, were allegedly caught on video going through luggage, removing items, and placing them in their pockets and down their pants. The surveillance took place between early April and late August of this year.

In interviews with Port Authority Police officials, according to Brown, the men variously admitted to taking goods from passenger luggage and thousands of dollars of stolen items were recovered from some of their homes and cars.

Those goods allegedly included iPhones, iPads, Sony Playstations, digital cameras, Valentino sunglasses, bottles of cologne, several expensive watches and other pricey jewelry items.

“When air travelers check their luggage with an airline, there is an implicit trust that their bags and their contents will meet them at their destination. It is always disheartening as a traveler to find that trust to be broken,” said Brown. “I applaud El Al Airlines for taking its customer complaints seriously and helping to bring the defendants to justice.”

The busted baggage handlers, identified as Tristan Bredwood, 22, of Saint Albans, Udhoo Doodnauth, 27, of Richmond Hill, Julio Salas, 44, of Corona, Dashawn Schooler, 25, of Wyandanch, New York, Romaine Smith, 25, of Brooklyn, Oshaine Christie, 22, of Rosedale, and Nkosi Cunningham, 24, of Brooklyn, were arraigned on Thursday, August 29 in Queens Criminal Court and charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal mischief, petit larceny and attempted petit larceny.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 84. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.Friday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then overcast. Low of 72. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  Rural Route Film Festival 

Whether a modern-day western set in Chile, a documentary about Chinese women thrust into an economic downturn or a drama about a forced marriage in Senegal, the Rural Route Film Festival screens work about people and cultures normally overlooked by the mainstream media. This year features screenings of 28 films from 13 countries, including a program devoted to the late documentarian Les Blank. Friday, August 3-Sunday, August 4 at the Museum of the Moving Image and other venues. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Man asks for $3, Tries to rape TSA worker on way to JFK airport: sources

A TSA worker on her way to Kennedy Airport Thursday was attacked by a man who tried to rape her after she wouldn’t give him $3, NBC 4 New York has learned. Read more: NBC New York

Report: Book pulled from reading list after parents object to sexual content

Sixth graders at a New York City school no longer have to read a book on their summer reading list after parents objected to its sexual content. Read more: CBS New York/AP

First lawsuit being filed against Southwest airlines after rough landing

A South Carolina woman who was injured evacuating the Southwest Airlines jet that landed on its nose at LaGuardia Airport last month is filing a lawsuit Friday alleging pilot error. Read more: New York Daily News

Storm-damaged R subway tunnel closing for repairs

A subway tunnel used by the R train that was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy will be closed for long-term repairs beginning Friday night. Read more: Fox New York/AP

Russia gives Snowden asylum, Obama-Putin summit in doubt

Russia rejected U.S. pleas and granted American fugitive Edward Snowden a year’s asylum on Thursday, letting the former spy agency contractor slip out of a Moscow airport after more than five weeks in limbo while angering the United States and putting in doubt a planned summit between the two nations’ presidents. Read more: Reuters 

200 homes in Bayside, Flushing file airplane noise complaints last month


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Almost all the noise complaints filed last month at three major airports came from Queens, according to data obtained by The Courier.

More than 700 calls about airplane noise flooded LaGuardia Airport this June, while 348 grievances came in about John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to statistics from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Out of 1,061 total complaints that poured in last month, only 18 complaints were made to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The complaints came from almost 200 homes in Queens, mostly in Flushing and Bayside, according to Port Authority data collected June 1-30.

About 500 complaints to LaGuardia were from those neighborhoods, with a majority of calls coming from residents near Travis Triangle and Bowne Park.

Residents from across the Queens border in nearby Floral Park made most of the complaints to JFK, a total of 200.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new flight pattern last December, much to the dismay of residents who say the procedure causes nonstop noise from low-flying planes.

The Port Authority and the FAA said they expect upcoming projects to reduce noise.

Representatives from both agencies addressed the Queens Borough President’s Aviation Advisory Council on July 22.

They said plans to soon rebuild and modernize the Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia would allow for larger planes on the runways. With more passengers per plane, that would mean fewer aircraft in the sky.

Officials also said by 2016, airports will be mandated to only use planes with engine sound-absorbing designs.

Planes going in and out of New York airports, with the exception of corporate aircraft, are currently “Stage 3” planes. The designation means engines are moved further into the interior of the plane to lessen noise.

Propellers are also shaped to deaden sound.

Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said larger planes would not be helpful.

“Even if flights are getting quieter, that won’t mean anything if there are more flights taking place in general,” she said.

Port Authority officials said they are also in the process of replacing 22 noise monitoring terminals and should be done by spring 2014.

They added that a public website will soon launch for people to monitor noise decibel readings and file noise complaints.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and multiple congressmembers from the city and Long Island have called for more action. They recently sent a letter to Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye urging his agency to create an airport advisory committee.

“It is simple common sense to say that the largest metropolitan area in the country should have an airport advisory committee like the one we are proposing,” Schumer said, “a body that would help increase quality of life for locals.”

The New York state legislature passed a bill this year that would require the Port Authority to conduct a one-time study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Jersey residents.

It awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature in New York and ultimately needs New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s approval as well.

Additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Pols push for two-state study of airplane noise


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Airport operators have become the target of the latest localized effort to quiet Queens skies.

The state legislature has passed a bill that would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a one-time study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Jersey residents.

“With this study on aircraft noise, we can best determine the use of certain runways and flight paths and use federal funding to solve this serious issue,” said Assemblymember Edward Ra, who represents parts of Nassau County.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new flight pattern last December, much to the dismay of residents who say the procedure causes nonstop noise from low-flying planes.

The bill would require the bi-state authority to submit its findings to both state legislatures by next June, depending on when it is enacted.

It awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature in New York and ultimately needs Governor Chris Christie’s approval in New Jersey, though it was only introduced in the New Jersey Senate last month.

“We’re confident that if we get this study done, it will prove that there is a significant impact on our communities and the FAA and Port Authority will be required to find measures to remediate this problem,” said Assemblymember Ed Braunstein.

The legislation would also require the Port Authority — which operates five hubs in New York and New Jersey, including John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports — to hold biennial public hearings.

“It is about time that all the communities that are affected stand up and say to the FAA and the Port Authority, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore,’’ said State Senator Tony Avella. “We may live by the airports, but when we all moved here, the air traffic was nothing like it is now.”

The FAA has since formed a committee to review its decision-making process, officials announced in May, and has agreed to hear out impacted communities.

JFK Airport’s Worldport terminal lands on endangered list


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Anthony Stramaglia/Save the Worldport

John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Worldport terminal has flown into new territory — a list naming it one of America’s most endangered historic locations.

On June 19, the flying saucer shaped-terminal was chosen for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s latest list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places. The site has been slated for demolition by 2015.

The terminal, owned by the Port Authority and leased by Delta Air Lines, made the leap to the list through the dedication of “Save the Worldport,” a preservationist group co-founded in 2011 by New Jersey residents Kalev Savi and Anthony Stramaglia.

Although Savi is from New Jersey, he felt a connection to the site after growing up in an airline family. He got his first impression of the terminal at a very young age.

“I just remember approaching this enormous glass sculpture, I thought I was going into a flying saucer,” said Savi.

“It was the symbol of a new era.”

Savi started a Facebook group after being made aware of the Port Authority’s plan to demolish the terminal in order to create a parking lot for airplanes. He met Stramaglia through the group. The two have been trying to come up with renovation plans for the terminal.

“What this list really does is give legitimacy to our cause,” said Savi. “It really is a validation.”

The National Trust has listed 242 sites to date, and only a handful of those locations have been lost. “Save the Worldport” hopes the extra attention for the terminal will inspire architects, engineers and other organizations to save the site.

“We listed it because we feel it’s a significant part of aviation history, design history,” said Roberta Lane, the National Trust’s senior New York field officer and attorney. “The threat is obviously very real. We wanted to raise awareness of this threat and of this place.”

Yet the threat came closer to being realized when a bulldozer started tearing up the roadway leading to the terminal earlier this week.

“The old Pan Am Worldport terminal at JFK served this region for more than a half century, but is obsolete for 21st century aviation purposes,” said Delta and the Port Authority in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, JFK is a land-constrained airport and the choice we face is between job creation today in Queens and preservation of a facility that is no longer functional.”

The preservationist group will work together with the National Trust to continue meeting with the Port Authority about various repurposing ideas. Those include turning the terminal into a longterm rest facility for delayed visitors and bringing the retro, cool feeling back to travel.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 93. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 73. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Farmhouse Fest

Get Real presents “Farmhouse Fest” at Alewife in Long Island City on Tuesday, June 25. Ticket includes entrance to the festival unlimited tastings of Belgian, Dutch, French and American style Farmhouse craft beers; unlimited tastings of Farmhouse style wines; and tastings of Farmhouse style foods like cheeses, breads, meats & gourmet pickles all perfectly paired with featured wines and beers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD cops pinch bank robbery suspect fleeing heist of Queens Capitol One branch

An NYPD sergeant and a rookie cop on Monday nabbed a bandit suspected of robbing a string of banks in Queens and Nassau County, police sources said. Read more: New York Daily News

7-Year-Old Queens boy struck in head by pellet gun bullet

A 7-year-old Queens boy was hit in the back of the head with a bullet from a pellet gun while standing outside with his mother Monday evening, and police are searching for a suspect. Read more: NBC New York

Smoky plume At power plant draws alarm in Queens

A defective boiler was blamed for a plume of black smoke that blasted out of the “Big Allis” power plant in Queens Monday. Read more: CBS New York

$1.2M in cash goes missing from JFK-bound flight: FBI

The FBI is investigating the theft of $1.2 million in cash that was discovered missing from the cargo of a Swissair flight when it landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport late Monday, NBC 4 New York has learned. Read more: NBC New York

Kelly to Wallenda: You will not be doing an NYC skyscraper high wire act

Aerialist Nik Wallenda drew awe Sunday night as he successfully walked across the Grand Canyon without a harness, and now his sights are set on two of the most iconic buildings in New York City. Read more: CBS New York

Russia rejects US demand for Snowden’s extradition

Russia’s foreign minister bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Tuesday that Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 93. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Monday night: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 75. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Central Astoria’s Independence Celebration

Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s annual event on the Astoria Park Lawn will feature the Queens Symphony Orchestra, followed by a fireworks display. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Police in Flushing investigate sexual assault at a spa

Police are investigating a reported sexual assault at a spa in Queens. Read more: ABC New York

JFK Airport roadway collapse injures construction worker

A construction worker was slightly injured Sunday when he was struck by falling debris during the demolition of the vacant Terminal 3 at Kennedy Airport. Read more: New York Daily News

Girl taken from Queens found, father arrested in Memphis

A 4-year-old girl was found safe Sunday in Memphis, after being taken by her biological father two days earlier in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Lawmakers approve speed cameras for New York City

New York’s state Legislature completed its 2013 session by approving cameras to catch speeders in New York City, four Las Vegas-type casinos for upstate and tax-free zones to attract employers. Read more: AP

Report: NSA leaker Edward Snowden avoids extradition, bound for Ecuador

A former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing highly classified surveillance programs has been allowed to leave for a “third country” because a U.S. extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law, the territory’s government said Sunday. Read more: CBS New York/AP

‘Difficult time’: Nelson Mandela in critical condition in hospital

Nelson Mandela remained in critical condition on Monday, after his condition deteriorated in hospital over the weekend. Read more: NBC News 

Op-Ed: More airport terminal gates = More Queens jobs


| oped@queenscourier.com


BY SETH BORNSTEIN

In late May, Delta Airlines officially opened nine more gates at JFK’s Terminal 4. This is great news for the borough of Queens and our on-going efforts to create, retain and attract jobs.

Here at the Queens Economic Development Corporation, where I serve as executive director, we offer numerous business- services programs that provide counseling; train people to get proper licenses and permits; coordinate commercial revitalization programs to upgrade our commercial neighborhoods; operate the Entrepreneur Space, a business incubator for small food businesses; and run the Queens Tourism Council, which promotes our cultural and recreational venues.

However, the most overlooked economic development program in Queens is not offered by my office. Rather, that program consists of our two Queens airports: LaGuardia and JFK.

The two airports are the unsung heroes of job creation and retention in Queens — with over 50 percent of airport employees being borough residents. That’s why so many of us know someone connected to the airports — whether it’s a friend who is a gate agent, a relative who works at a hotel or a neighbor who runs a catering company that supplies an airline.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates LGA, JFK, Newark and two additional regional airports, generates close to 500,000 jobs, $25.6 billion in wages and $65 billion in total economic activity. In Queens, LaGuardia generates over 100,000 jobs, about $5 billion in wages and almost $14 billion in total economic activity. JFK generates more than twice the number of jobs and wages as LGA — thanks to the large cargo presence, with a total of over $30 billion in economic activity.

The simple fact is that more gates at JFK means more jobs for Queens. The Port Authority estimates that for every 1 million passengers the airports serve, 4,100 jobs are created annually in the region. These are direct airport jobs as well as jobs in the myriad of businesses in and around the airport, including restaurants, florist shops, car rentals, gas stations, uniform manufacturers and retail establishments, as well as the tourism industry. And the people of Queens have benefited from this more than any other county.

Additionally, the Port Authority awards hundreds of contracts every year to New York-based firms for work at LGA and JFK. Last year alone totaled $68.5 million. Since the implementation of the Queens Air Service Development Office, which was founded at the QEDC over 25 years ago, the borough has been awarded nearly 7,000 contracts, totaling approximately $1.1 billion to Queens-based operations. Organizations such as All Lock and Glass Service Inc. of Long Island City, Glenridge Fabrications of Ridgewood, Solar Insulation Company Inc. of Maspeth and Capital Contractors Inc. of Douglaston. In addition, many small and minority-owned businesses have taken advantage of the Air Services Office.

Unfortunately, the future of this highly successful airport jobs program is in jeopardy. This is because our region’s airports are facing severe capacity limitations that will only get worse in the coming decades.

A critical component of the effort to increase airport capacity is the implementation of technological advances needed to bring our airspace into the 21st century. This is why QEDC was a founding member of the National Coalition to Advance NextGen. NextGen is a complete overhaul of the national airspace system, from the air traffic control system to its airports, using 21st-century, satellitebased technologies, operational improvements and new procedures. The system includes never-before-attempted innovations designed to ensure future safety, capacity and environmental goals.

Portions of NextGen are already in place or being tested around the country, including in New York. Working together, New York area airports and airlines including United and jetBlue, have initiated improvements that permit some flights to fly more precise, direct paths that preserve safety, save time, save fuel and lower emissions. These changes will help ease delays and cancellations, which will in turn ensure that LGA and JFK continue to serve as engines for job growth for Queens and all of New York City.

Seth Bornstein is executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation

 

 

JFK Airport workers want a living wage


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo/THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Security workers at John F. Kennedy International Airport find themselves in limbo – between terminals and supporting families on minimum wage.

“Nobody cares about our guys in the airport,” said Lorrington McKenzie who works traffic security outside the terminals.

McKenzie, along with other security officers, gets paid $8 an hour. He has not gotten a raise since he started working at JFK nearly four years ago.

To support his wife and three children, ages 10, 6 and 1, McKenzie has resorted to pawning anything and everything, including his wedding ring. He said he is also considering getting a second job on top of working full time at the airport.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I’m struggling.”

McKenzie said not having paid sick days adds to the “terrible conditions” of his job.

He is in charge of monitoring traffic coming in and out of the arrivals section and said drivers have gotten hostile in the past.

“They’re not allowed to sit in the terminal and wait for passengers. It’s for safety purposes,” he said. “But they get angry and frustrated when they have to drive around.”

Once, when he turned his back, he said, a driver punched him from behind.

“I was a little shaky,” he recalled. “I told Port Authority. But nothing came out of it.”

The Port Authority is responsible for contracts with private security firms that guard JFK.

Terminal 3, where McKenzie worked, closed after JFK opened a new terminal. Since then, McKenzie has not had a stable position. His company’s officials said he could be subject to a pay cut, or even lose his job altogether.

“The [job market] is all about who knows who,” he said. “I can’t just go out and get another job.”

Shah Rahman, another security guard, has not received a raise since he started working at the airport.

“The wage is quite insufficient,” he said. “It was good 10 years ago. But since that time, living expenses have risen. The minimum wage is not good for now.”

Rahman said he cannot afford to pay all of his living expenses. His wife and daughter both work part-time, but it’s still a struggle. His 23-year-old daughter is starting college soon, and the expenses will continue.

“Sometimes I have to borrow money from others,” Rahman said. “We have demanded raising our wages and paid sick days, but the company has not yet accepted our demands.”

The Port Authority did not return requests for comment as of press time.

 

CORRECTION**Lorrington McKenzie and Shah Rahman are non-union members working at JFK Airport. They are not members of local union SEIU 32BJ as previously reported. We regret the error.

 

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