Originally posted Friday, 27 March 2015

Written by Chris Towery

Delta/John F. Kennedy International Airport Redevelopment Phase 1

Project Details

Delta Air Lines, Inc.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP


Construction Professional(s)
Satterfield & Pontikes

Type of Project

Delivery Method(s)
Management Cost + Fixed Fee

To streamline travel for customers passing through New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Delta Air Lines launched a $1.4 billion terminal expansion and redevelopment project to relocate its international operations from Terminal 3 to Terminal 4. The redevelopment was aimed at reducing congestion at the baggage-claim and security-checkpoint areas, making international travel more convenient and efficient for Delta customers.

The first phase of work at Terminal 4 was divided into three contracts, and all three were managed in a joint venture between STV and Satterfield & Pontikes (S&P):

1. Head House Expansion and Renovation
To accommodate passengers from nine additional gates, the 110,000-sqaure-foot head house at Terminal 4 required significant expansion. The expansion side of the work included a major upgrade to the baggage-handling system and the addition of a new 30,000-square foot customs and immigration area. A new domestic baggage claim hall was also added, as well as larger areas for Customs and Border Protection. Additionally, a new bus station was provided for customers to transfer between terminals.

The redevelopment side of the work featured expanded shopping areas, a new 24,000-square-foot Delta Sky Club, and reorganized/upgraded check-in lanes for high efficiency. This phase also involved the construction of new escalators, stairs, elevators, moving walkways, piles, concrete foundations, as well the removal of the monumental stairways between the third and fourth levels. Site work entailed utility relocations, installation of new fueling lines and hydrants, as well as drainage system modifications.

2. Main Concourse Extension
To add needed capacity, a 540,000-square-foot, nine-gate extension was constructed at the end of Concourse B. This also involved the construction of a passenger-security screening platform over the concourse’s existing retail court.

3. Apron and Taxiway Improvements
The project required reconfiguration of the taxiways and parking aprons in the vicinity of both the old Terminal 3 and new Terminal 4. This entailed taxi-lane and apron paving, utility-infrastructure improvements, and environmental remediation.

Overall Project Management

Two of the largest and the most difficult elements of the project’s subcontract work involved the replacement of the baggage handling system and installation of a new in-line baggage screening system. This all had to occur while still processing more than 3,000 thousand bags per hour and complying with the TSA security protocols. It was a truly critical portion of the project, as it had the highest probability of shutting down the entire terminal and costing the airlines millions of dollars in delayed or canceled flights.

To facilitate this part of the project, Delta Airlines held the contract with the baggage handling supply and installation vendor, rather than the general contractor. This leveraged Delta’s position with the vendor, since they are a major purchaser of this equipment worldwide. Because of this arrangement, when the vendor fell behind schedule at one point, Delta senior management reached out to the vendor’s overseas president and was able to accelerate the delivery schedule.

Another challenge involved dealing with scheduling and logistical issues that arose with one of the team’s general contractors. To meet the planned schedule, the requirement for a guaranteed maximum price was eliminated, and portions of the scope of work were removed from the base contract. This resulted in fewer change orders, enabling the schedule to remain on track. Also, additional staff was brought on, creating a more robust management team. The combination of these measures helped bring the contract back on schedule.

Scheduling: To facilitate schedule management and analysis, Delta used a cost-loaded schedule (using Primavera P6) that was integrated with a 3D model (using Autodesk Revit) to produce an innovative 4D schedule. This level of interoperability between design, construction sequencing, and cost information enabled Delta to review project progress in real time and provided the following advantages:

  • Visual representation of the work completed in comparison to the work planned
  • Visual representation of the upcoming activities (4D look-ahead schedule)
  • Visual representation of the time-space clashes (when two or more elements occupy the same space at a specific time in the schedule)

The ability to track and monitor the schedule in real time played a major role in the project’s success. Delta developed a system that allowed the project schedule to be tracked using multiple methods. Costs and scheduling were tracked together using earned value management systems (EVMS). The EVMS enabled Delta to track and monitor project progress in several ways:

  • Graphical representation comparing the planned dates and actual dates of the work in place (production rate analysis)
  • Graphical representation of the earned value analysis, which reports on the project progress in terms of both schedule and cost
  • Graphical representation of the weekly progress of the project scope broken down by area and by trade
  • Analysis of the variance between the planned and actual dates of critical activities
  • Graphical analysis to show the probability of meeting the current schedule

Delta_Bagage_ScannersCost Management: To facilitate the ability to monitor cost and schedule on a real-time basis, Delta utilized Building Information Management (BIM) throughout the design and construction phases of the project. The use of BIM provided consolidated information on budget forecasting, resources that were committed and spent, estimates of cost increases and decreases, and general construction progress. The integration of the cost-loaded schedule into the BIM model was essential in monitoring cash flow. The integrated team analyzed this data to get an accurate assessment of work performed in the field vs. actual dollars spent.

Quality Management: A project of this complexity required extensive quality control by Delta as well as the design and construction management teams. Delta established a quality management program, which was a key component in making sure the necessary procedures were closely adhered to.

To facilitate quality control, Delta worked with team members to see that all concurrent activities at the site were considered. Quality control methods were implemented so that all construction activities were performed in accordance with approved drawings, specifications, applicable codes and standards, as well as contractual requirements. Quality procedures were put in place to control activities among all project participants to ensure inspection planning, material tests, reporting, and acceptance criteria were met. This included meeting rigorous requirements in specific areas, such as core, shell, egress and filtration systems, along with other safety-design features. Consistent procedures were implemented throughout the project, so all activities were performed in a controlled manner and in compliance with established quality requirements.

Overall Project Success
Outside_SeatingA key factor in the project’s success was the excellent level of communication maintained throughout its duration. With the Delta executives located in the airline’s base of operations in Atlanta, careful measures were taken to keep the lines of communications open at all times.

Regular communications between the integrated team and the Delta executives in Atlanta were conducted on a bi-weekly basis. In addition, weekly meetings were held with JFK International Airport on scheduling and access-related matters. Weekly meetings were also held with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was operator of the airport, to coordinate inspections and security concerns. All offices for the integrated team were located on-site in the same trailer complex to further facilitate lines of communication.

Furthermore, monthly meetings were held with senior-level presidents and executive vice presidents of the contractors—Lend Lease, Turner Construction, and Peter Scalamandre & Sons—to discuss construction progress, develop recovery plans if progress fell behind schedule, and consider any other issues that could be expedited.

Delta_CheckinDuring the monthly executive-level meetings, reports were generated using BIM. The use of BIM was one of the major factors that contributed to the success of this project. Specific areas of the project were identified and measured on a biweekly basis and added into the BIM model to help reveal overall trends and determine what corrective actions were needed to keep the project on track. This allowed for an interactive, fact-based progress dialogue with the three contractors at a senior level.

The original project budget of both hard and soft costs for Phase I was $740 million. Forecasts showed the project would be completed at an actual cost of $703 million, and $130 million of the original budget was established as contingency and management reserves, of which $8 million was anticipated to not be used. These contingency funds were eventually used for an additional scope added by Delta and several governmental agencies, as well as unforeseen site conditions, certain phasing and staging requirements, and some selective overtime.

The project was completed in just 815 calendar days, which was on schedule for a May 23, 2013 opening. Pleased with the performance on Phase 1, Delta selected the same team to provide construction management services for the second phase, a sure sign of the Owner’s satisfaction.

Project Complexity
The below challenges added significant complexity to the terminal redevelopment project, and following those is a list of the solutions Delta used to meet and deal with these issues.


  • Scheduling and management of major construction within a terminal where 14 operational gates were actively used by more than 30 carriers
  • There could be no interruptions in service during construction
  • High levels of security had to be maintained at all times
  • The installation of an “in-line” baggage screening system necessitated replacing more than 6,000 linear feet of the existing baggage conveyor without disrupting service Solutions
  • Use of proprietary BIM software by S&P allowed the integration of a BIM model with the project schedule and budget during construction, so progress in the field was automatically updated, and the schedule was monitored on a real-time basis
  • The BIM model also helped with compliance with security regulations, in scheduling the efficient movement of materials through buildings and in coordinating with nearby construction of other projects
  • High-level security measures were implemented, which required the screening of workers, materials, and even tools
  • An operations plan was submitted for each area of the terminal, which included a schedule, temporary protection, a method of separating the public from the construction, as well as baggage operation throughput
  • Leveraging Delta’s relationship with the baggage handling vendor kept equipment delivery on track


Efforts to enhance sustainability were implemented throughout the project, including:

  • During the apron and taxiway reconstruction, a jet fuel plume was discovered underground covering an estimated 4,000 cubic yards. Rather than completely remove it, the contaminated soil was treated on site
  • This on-site treatment prevented potential exposure of vapors to the air and prevented the need to transport the hazardous soil by trucks
  • Eliminating the need for the estimated 140+ trucks required to transport the soil reduced the project’s carbon emissions
  • Soil was reused on site as backfill
  • There was no accumulation to local land fill sites

For its superior project management, Delta Air Lines was selected as the winner of COAA’s 2014 Project Leadership Gold Award for Phase 1 of the John F. Kennedy International Airport Redevelopment. For more information on this project, visit http://news.delta.com.