JFK’s Terminal 4: Gert-Jan de Graaff Wants You to Have a ‘Memorable Experience’

Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of the International Arrivals Terminal, welcomes you.

By Jonathan Spira on 22 June 2017
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If you want to see what the future of international travel looks like, you need go no farther than the arrivals hall at Terminal 4, the International Arrivals Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Having replaced the similarly named ca. 1957 International Arrivals Building in 2001, Terminal 4 is the major gateway for international travelers at JFK and was the first such facility in the United States to be managed by an affiliate of a foreign airport operator, Schiphol Group. Some 33 airlines operate out of T4 including 31 non-U.S. airlines and it’s the busiest international terminal in the New York area.

We recently had a visit with Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of JFKIAT LLC, the Schiphol subsidiary that manages the terminal, and its biggest cheerleader.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at T4

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at T4

“Just like the original International Arrivals Building was the main international terminal at JFK, so is its successor, Terminal 4. Sixty percent of our passengers are traveling internationally,” he explains. “In addition, we’re the only terminal open 24 by 7 at JFK.”

Since 2001, T4 has been expanded twice, both times to accommodate a major tenant, Delta Air Lines, which now accounts for 60% of all flights of passenger volume there. But Delta’s presence is only part of the story: airlines such as AirSerbia, Copa, El Al, KLM, South African, Swiss, and Virgin Atlanta call it home as well. Some airlines only operate flights once or twice a week while others operate multiple flights each day. Two of the three major worldwide airline alliances, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, have representation here as well.

Once airside, all passengers, regardless of carrier, get to enjoy the terminal’s amenities and relaxed atmosphere. Among them, its very own Shake Shack, something de Graaff considers one of the facility’s best-kept secrets. According to him, Shake Shack alone generates about one-third of all posts on Twitter about T4 and they are “all thumbs up.”

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