February 12, 2013 The end of Pan-Am’s Worldport
Yesterday Delta Airlines finalized a deal with the New York Port Authority and Schipol management group to extend and renovate the B Concourse of Terminal Four at New York’s JFK Airport. Delta plans to open part of Concourse B expansion this May. When the Project is completed Delta will move all of its regional jet flights to Terminal Four. This will allow Delta to completely move out of Terminal Three which it owns. Currently Delta plans to level Terminal Three and use the space for aircraft storage. Most airport terminals are ugly, boxy, utilitarian structures but not Terminal Three. Opened in 1960 Terminal Three, then owned by Pan-Am, has one of the most distinctive architectural designs of all time, a four-acre circular roof extending over the tarmac. Dubbed the “Flying Saucer” it was used to allow passengers to walk from the terminal to the plane under cover in the age before jet-bridges.
Later modified to include jet bridges and extended to allow for the 747, it was christened the Worldport.
Now, it’s 53 years old, and having been owned by two carriers that both went through bankruptcy, the terminal is a dump. From the inside it is dark, confusing, old, and inefficient. It is no surprise that Delta wants to be rid of it. I personally have had the displeasure of spending a night in lovely terminal three and it was a long night. Now there are groups who are petitioning the NY Historical Society to add it to the list the Historic building which would prevent its demolition, but they haven’t been successful yet. Going against Delta’s deep pockets and the fact passengers do not like the terminal, this temple to 1960’s era aviation seems destined for the wrecking ball.
Photo courtesy of everythingpanam.com