Press Releases

Port Authority and NYC Economic Development Corporation Study Calls For Modernization and Access Improvements to Help Boost Air Cargo at John F. Kennedy International Airport

Joint Study Seeks to Strengthen Industry That Supports 50,000 Regional Jobs

Industry and government agencies can significantly bolster the competitive position of JFK’s air cargo services by improving truck access, replacing outdated buildings and business practices, while also boosting promotional efforts, according to a study released today by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. A full copy of the report can be found at

The joint report, commissioned by both agencies and prepared by Landrum & Brown Inc. consultants, seeks to help JFK regain its dominance in air cargo tonnage, which slipped in ranking from third to seventh nationwide between 2000 and 2010. Changing patterns in international air traffic and the economic downturn are among various factors responsible for a 25-percent drop in air cargo tonnage at JFK over that decade.

Stakes for making improvements are high: In addition to supporting over 50,000 jobs, the air cargo industry provides nearly $3 billion in wages and over $8.5 billion in sales in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area alone. Some initiatives contained in the report already are underway, with others planned to begin soon to strengthen this vital industry.

Key among the study’s recommendations is a revised physical master plan to guide future growth of JFK’s cargo operations, while identifying specific action items for implementation. The study includes plans to expand opportunities at JFK’s existing Foreign Trade Zone to defer taxes on goods processed in the zone, increase cargo tonnage, build new state-of-the-art cargo facilities and improve cooperation between agencies to move cargo trucks in and out of the airport more efficiently.

”The regional air cargo industry has few rivals as an engine for our economy, which is why it is so important to nurture and expand this vital business,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “Working with our industry partners will create a platform for expansion of the cargo industry in New York City and the creation of additional jobs.”

“Our airports are critical to the economic well-being of our city and region,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “The air cargo industry alone accounts for tens of thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in economic activity. We know, however, there is still room for improvement. The results of this study will allow us to build on our strengths, thereby ensuring that we continue to remain competitive in this important industry well into the 21st century.”

“JFK airport serves as a prominent port of entry or departure for air cargo transiting through the United States,” said Brandon Fried, Executive Director, Air Forwarders Association. “The Airforwarders Association appreciates this study since many of our members have a significant presence and frequently depend upon the airport.  We look forward to reading the findings and hope they lead to increased access infrastructure investment and improvement to accommodate future air cargo demand.”

“The JFK Air Cargo Association applauds the efforts of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Economic Development Corporation,” said William Mercado, President, JFK Air Cargo Association. “We look forward to assisting with any initiatives that will help in revitalizing the JFK air cargo business.”  

Bolstering the modernization, improved access and updated business practices would be the launch of an expansive JFK Air Cargo marketing campaign to attract more business to the airport, stressing the unparalleled access that JFK provides to regional, national, and international markets. Promotions also would tout JFK’s ability to accommodate both freighter and wide body passenger jets with tarmac access for the largest planes in the world fleet -- the A-380 and the 747-8F.  

JFK, long one of the world’s top air cargo gateways, has seen competition increase with the growth of international markets in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East in recent years. Nationally, JFK has seen other major airports increase their air cargo focus. For example, based on geography, Los Angeles International Airport developed a focus on trans-Pacific traffic, Miami International Airport with South and Central America, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, given its central location in the U.S., pursued commerce with all markets.

After September 11, 2001, the industry experienced substantial changes with the substitution of trucking activity for domestic air cargo and domestic legs of international air cargo, a trend furthered by unstable fuel prices and the rising costs of security.  

On the positive side, the study confirms JFK’s largest competitive advantage, access to the nation’s largest consumer market, served by a sophisticated and experienced network of freight forwarders and cargo brokers located adjacent to the airport in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens.

Plans already are underway to replace JFK’s outmoded cargo buildings and infrastructure on-airport with a new state-of-the-art cargo facility, a new truck center and a new animal handling facility. The $32 million animal facility will handle up to 70,000 animals per year and will offer the most comprehensive services of any facility in the United States. The truck center will include a rest area, concessions, restaurants, fueling operations and layover space for approximately 50 tractor-trailers. 

Congested roadways and trucking restrictions make getting to and from JFK difficult and NYCEDC and Port Authority are working together with other government partners to improve access. Industry representatives interviewed for the study stressed that these obstacles make JFK less competitive for serving inland markets than other airports offering increased flight services and convenient highway connections.  

City and Port Authority officials have convened a working group aimed at improving truck access to JFK and its cargo facilities to support better and more efficient regional freight mobility.

Other recommendations in the comprehensive report include calls for improved communications among the Port Authority, NYCEDC and city industries, consideration of an industrial business improvement district, and creation of an air cargo unit within the Port Authority’s aviation department.

About Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in New York. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the state of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency relies on revenues generated by facility users, tolls, fees and rents as well as loans, bond financing, and federal grants to fund its operations. For more information, please visit


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


Press Release Subscription

Subscribe to have the latest NYCEDC press releases delivered to your inbox.

Contact Info

Nick Kelly (NYCEDC)


Ron Marsico (PANYNJ)