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JFK Airport’s Terminal 1 remains closed for second day due to electrical fire

Feb. 17, 2023 By Bill Parry

Terminal 1 at JFK International Airport remains closed for a second straight day after a Thursday morning electrical fire in a storage area knocked out power to the massive facility, causing chaos to thousands of travelers. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey continues working with the terminal’s operator to complete repairs, restore power, and anticipates the start of limited operations at Terminal 1 on Saturday.

The power outage caused incoming and outgoing flights at the terminal to be canceled, and travelers relying on Air France, Lufthansa, Korean Air, AeroMexico, Air China, Cayman Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, and other air carriers were forced to make other travel arrangements. “Terminal 1 represents 5% of all JFK scheduled passenger flights, and of today’s 64 scheduled Terminal 1 arrivals and departures,  13 will operate at other JFK terminals, 12 will operate at other local airports, and 39 have been canceled,” the Port Authority said in a statement Friday.

The line for TSA security at Terminal 1 was empty Thursday afternoon as outgoing flights were canceled. (Photo by Jeff Yaplanter)

The fire broke out in a storage area on Feb. 16, causing “an electrical panel failure, which also caused a small isolated fire overnight that was immediately extinguished,” according to the Port Authority, and travelers should check with their air carriers for flight status before coming to JFK Airport.

All international flights are expected to be suspended through Friday and the cause of the fire is under investigation by fire marshals, according to the FDNY.

As flights were canceled Thursday afternoon, Terminal 1 was run on emergency power with scant power at some of the check-in areas, with long lines of people hoping to re-book.

Lufthansa flights were diverted elsewhere. Meanwhile, Air New Zealand turned back one of its flights and canceled another. Air France’s incoming flights were sent to Newark, with many Air France passengers at Terminal 1 sent to Newark via buses.

The Port Authority confirmed that the fire was caused by an electrical panel failure. The authority said that it was extinguished quickly, but nevertheless impacted the power of the entire terminal. There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire or power outage.

The AirTrain was running on schedule so passengers could still move from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4.

Passengers at Terminal 1 waiting for transportation to Terminal 4 and Newark Airport. (Photo by Jeff Yapalater)

“Contingent on the completion of repairs and testing, we anticipate the start of limited operations at Terminal 1 on Saturday,” the Port Authority statement concluded. “Travelers should continue to check with their carriers for flight status before coming to Terminal 1. We will perform a thorough review in conjunction with the private entity that operates Terminal 1.”

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