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Port Authority approves $4M deal to repair JFK walkways

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted Thursday to return to JetBlue Airways three sets of moving walkways in its terminal at Kennedy Airport that the authority has been unable to fix for months.

Members of the Port Authority board voted unanimously and without comment at their monthly meeting to return the walkways to JetBlue, reimburse the airline up to $4 million to repair them and reduce the airline’s annual rent by $660,000 to maintain them in the future.

The walkways, connecting the JetBlue check-in area to the parking garage and the AirTrain, were built by the airline during its 2008 modernization of the terminal and turned over to the authority that year as part of the airline’s contract with the agency.

Two of the walkways — each with a lane in both directions — have been out of service since August and the other set has been out of service since last November, the authority said in an email.

The agency and the private contractor that runs the AirTrain “have made repeated attempts to repair the walkways . . . [and] the decision was made to recommend . . . a transfer of maintenance obligations and capital investments to JetBlue,” the email said.

The email did not specify why the walkways were inoperable, and the resolution approved by the board Thursday said that, “JetBlue has the ability to order the parts and quickly hire a contractor to perform the rehabilitation.”

JetBlue said that since spring it has been using electric passenger carts — and staff with wheelchairs for those who need them — to ferry customers along the 800-yard concourse where walkways are located.

One other set of moving walkways, between the taxicab area and the parking garage entrance, are still in operation and will remain with the Port Authority.

On a separate issue, the board voted to commit almost $300 million to a portion of the proposed Gateway tunnel replacement under the Hudson River, but that commitment is contingent on future board action as well as new federal appropriations and funding commitments from both state governments.


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