Who Owns JFK Airport?

Want to know who owns JFK Airport in New York City?

Despite Airport ZZZ being a blog dedicated to airport sleep using sleep pods, this article dwells in a non-sleep related but very good question on who owns and operates JFK Airport. This blog is all about that.

But let’s first understand the difference between airport management and airport ownership.

Airport management is all activities that include the commercial operation of an airport and they may also be involved in its planning and development.

Airport ownership, on the other hand, is the authority -usually a City, County, or Federal government which leases land to the airport managing authority for a period not less than 10 years and receives revenue from the airport managing entity.

In the case of New York’s JFK Airport, the airport owners and airport management are different.

You can find info on JFK Airport’s Sleep Pods and where to Sleep at JFK here.

So, who owns JFK airport?

JFK Airport is owned by the City of New York and is managed and operated by the Port Authority which got the lease from New York City in 1947 to build an airport in Queens borough to serve the large NYC Metropolitan area.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey(PANYNJ) are the custodians of the JFK and operates it under a long-term lease agreement.

New York City through the NY State Office of the State Comptroller approved the current lease of land that JFK sits on. It was executed on November 24, 2004 and this extended the lease term to PANYNJ for another 49 years, from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2050.

Credit: NY State

In June 2021, the City of New York which owns JFK announced that it had accepted a revitalization plan that includes the expansion of some sections of the JFK airport and mandated the airport operator to develop a new world-class cargo handling facility.

The latest lease that New York City(the airport owner) approved for the construction of the modern cargo handling facility takes up 26 acres and will cost the taxpayers up to $145 million dollars.

As the owner of JFK, the City of New York is able to pass resolutions including offering additional land to the airport operator to expand its facilities.

The City also approves the Airport’s operating budget and capital projects.

So, there you have it – JFK is owned by the City of New York while being managed by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).

How much is JFK Airport owner paid annually?

According to the lease agreement executed in 2004, PANYNJ is required to pay New York City a base rent at the greater of either Minimum Annual Rent (MAR) or 8 percent of the gross revenue collected. For 2016, this amount was $129.8 million.

At the start of the lease, NYC was paid a lump sum of $500 million and an additional lump sum of $280.2 million at execution.

Below are the Gross operating revenue from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport from 2015 to 2020. These amounts were paid to NYC as lease payments from PANYNJ:

Credit: Statista

Keep reading to learn more about JFK’s history, management, and operations!

Who manages JFK Airport?

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operated JFK airport since July 1, 1948.

The Port Authority is a bi-state agency that was created by a compact between the two states in 1921.

The agency has been criticized for its alleged monopoly power over the region’s airports, bridges, tunnels, and seaports.

In 2015, the Port Authority announced that it would be privatizing JFK airport’s Terminal One.

JFK Airport’s Managing Board:

The negotiated lease agreement between the City and PANYNJ stipulates that JFK Airport should be managed by a board that includes;

  • Four members are appointed by the New York City Mayor;
  • The Port Authority Chief Operating Officer;
  • The Port Authority Director of Aviation;
  • The Director of JFK Airport;

You can read more about the appointees here.

The board meets monthly to discuss airport operations, capital improvements, and other business matters.

A brief history of JFK Airport ownership?

JFK airport was originally known as Idlewild Airport and it was built in 1943 on land that was previously used as a golf course.

The golf course was owned by the City of New York but the land was leased to the Port Authority for $1 per year.

The airport was renamed after President John F. Kennedy in 1963, a year after his assassination.

JFK was originally built as a way to relieve the congestion at LaGuardia airport but it quickly became one of the busiest airports in the world.

In its first year, the airport handled over one million passengers.

By the early 1960s, JFK was handling over eight million passengers a year and it was clear that the airport needed to be expanded.

In 1968, the Port Authority announced an $8 billion dollar expansion plan that would double the size of the airport.

The expansion included the construction of new terminals, a new runway, and a new parking garage.

The expansion was completed in 1979 and JFK became one of the largest airports in the world.

Ways airports are managed and owned:

There are several ways that an airport can be owned and managed.

The most common type is public ownership, where the airport is owned by a government entity such as a city, state, or national government.

In this type of ownership, the government entity typically contracts with a private company to manage the airport.

This is the case with JFK Airport, which is owned by the City of New York and managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Another type of ownership is private ownership, where the airport is owned by a private company or individual.

An example of this is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is owned by the City of Atlanta but operated by the Atlanta Airport Company, a private company.

A third type of ownership is joint public-private ownership, where the airport is owned jointly by a government entity and a private company.


  1. Baruch college
  2. NY State Office for Compotoller of Budgets
  3. DWU
  4. https://www.panynj.gov/port-authority/en/index.html
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Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.