NEW YORK JOHN F. KENNEDY AIRPORT
part 3: the International
Arrivals Building (IAB)
In March 1955, construction work began on the International Arrivals Building (IAB), which was completed in December 1957, after just over two years of construction.
Domestic services continued to operate from the temporary terminal for many years, with airlines transferring their operations to their own proper terminals as they were completed.
The first US airline terminals to be ready for operation were Eastern Airlines and United Airlines in 1959. American Airlines and Pan American opened their terminals in 1960 while TWA and the joint Braniff/Northeast/Northwest terminal opened in 1962.
THE HEART OF TERMINAL CITY
Stretching for eleven city blocks and containing nearly 600,000 square feet (55,742 square meters), the first permanent passenger terminal at Kennedy Airport was an elegant composition of three linked buildings with the central U-shaped International Arrival Building (IAB), which was flanked by two Airline Wing Buildings.
Designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merril (SOM), this was the civic center of Terminal City. The parabolic arch of the arrival hall and the control tower became the airport's logo. The entire complex provided a total of 24 aircraft stands.
Terminal City opened just as the Jet Age began in the United States. Idlewild was not the first Jet Age airport. Neither the British-built Comet 1 nor the Russian Tupolev 104 served the airport when first entering service in the 1950s.
However, the first truly successful jet airliner, the Boeing 707, entered passenger service at Idlewild. New York International Airport truly became a true jet age airport as the first generation of Boeing, Douglas and Convair jet airlines entered service, starting in 1958.
1958 also marks the year in which more trans-Atlantic passengers traveled by air than by ship.
FIRST JET FLIGHTS
In August, 1958, Pan American began operating experimental 707 cargo flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Later the same year, the first regularly scheduled jet-powered trans-Atlantic flights began when the Comet IV entered into service on the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) route between Idlewild and London Heathrow, on October 4th.
12 days later a Pan American 707-121 flew a press demonstration flight from Idlewild to Brussels. On October 26th, Pan American started its first scheduled international flight using the 707, when Flight 114 departed Idlewild for Paris Le Bourget Airport.
National Airlines initiated the first US domestic jet service on December 10th, 1958, when it inaugurated 707 service from Idlewild to Miami.
The Boeing 707 and DC-8 programs were launched only days before construction started. Originally, these planes could seat approximately 120-130 passengers in a two-class configuration.
During the 1960s this number increased through elimination of the lounges, reduction of first class, and most importantly, by the introduction of economy class.
The combined effects of these developments saw the average number of passengers per international arrival more than double from 40 in 1957 to 93 in 1960.
For the IAB to cope, the customs and baggage handling facilities were expanded, thereby boosting the international arrival capacity to ten big jets, or 1,200 passengers, per hour in time for the summer season of 1961.
Blast fences were installed to protect the Wing Buildings and allow jet aircraft to taxi out under their own power. A short pier with two boarding bridges was built on the outer side of the eastern arm of the "U" and leased to BOAC. A second one was planned for the use of Air France but was never built.