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New York is one of the major cities in the United States and is also known as the most populous city. The city covers a total area of 300.46 square miles and is a center for education, technology, tourism, entertainment, research, art, fashion, sports, and much more.

New York City is accessible through various transportation mediums including roadways and airways. Talking about the airway, there are some major airports in NYC operating scheduled commercial flights to major domestic and international destinations.

There are three major airports in NYC and they are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Let’s discover more about the 3 major airports in NYC including history, facilities, airline operations, destinations, and so on.

Top 3 major airports in NYC

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

John F. Kennedy International Airport (ICAO: KJFK, IATA: JFK, FAA LID: JFK) is commonly known as JFK Airport or New York-JFK. It is among the major airports in NYC and is the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America.

JFK is the sixth-busiest airport in the United States and 20th-busiest airport in the world as the airport served over 63 million passengers in the year 2019. The majority of airlines from across the globe operate commercial flights to and from the JFK airport.

Located at an elevation of 13 ft (4 m) above mean sea level (AMSL), the airport serves the New York metropolitan area which is the largest metropolitan area in the world in terms of urban landmass.

JFK Apron (Airports in NYC)

History of JFK Airport

The previous name of John F. Kennedy International Airport was Idlewild Airport with ICAO Code KIDL, FAA Location Identifier and IATA Code as IDL. The Idlewild Airport was built as a relief airport to LaGuardia Field.

Almost 1000 acres of the Idlewild Golf Course site was utilized for the construction of the new airport with spending US$60 million in the initial phase. The respective authority and the New York City Board of Estimate commissioned condemnation of additional 1,350 acres for Idlewild Airport.

The official name of the airport was changed to New York International Airport, Anderson Field by the City Council however, the common name was maintained ‘Idlewild’ until December 24, 1963.

The first flight was conducted on 1st July 1948 with the inauguration ceremony under the presence of the then-U.S. President Harry S. Truman. Foreign carriers were constrained to use Idlewild Aiport as the Port Authority withdrew foreign airlines’ permission to use LaGuardia Airport.

The Idlewild Airport started its operation with six runways however, two runways with designation 1 L and 7 L were in reserve status and didn’t come into operation.

The first-ever jetliner to land at Idlewild airport was the Avro Jetliner which landed on April 16, 1950. Eastern Air Lines, National Airlines, and Pan American were the airlines operating flights to various domestic and international destinations from the airport.

jfk airport night view aviatechchannel
JFK Night View (Airports in NYC)

The airport went through various expansion projects due to the increase in the volume of international traffic. The control tower, terminal, parking lots, taxiways, and roadways were enhanced to serve maximum passengers.

National Airlines, British Airways, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Airlines, American Airlines, Pan American World Airways, Trans World Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Northeast Airlines, JetBlue and other commercial airlines started operating scheduled flights to and from the Idlewild airport.

The name John F. Kennedy International Airport was declared on 24th December 1963 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. After renaming, the airport went through terminal enhancement projects with over a US$1.4 billion budget.

With various infrastructural and technological enhancements, the JFK airport became the first airport in the United States to accommodate the world’s biggest passenger jet Airbus A380. Lufthansa Airbus A380 landed at JFK airport on 1st August 2008 with over 500 passengers. Airbus A380 didn’t become successful due to declining demand and inclining operational costs.

Besides Lufthansa, other airlines including Singapore Airlines, Air France, Korean Air, Asiana  Airlines, and Etihad Airways operated A380 to and from JFK airport.

Facilities at JFK Airport

Being one of the major airports in NYC, John F. Kennedy International Airport features six terminals holding a total of 131 gates. The terminals are numerically categorized from 1 to 8 out of which two terminals, Terminal 3 and Terminal 6 were demolished in 2013 and 2011 respectively.

jfk airport terminal view aviatechchannel
JFK Terminal (Airports in NYC)

The terminal buildings are designed in a deformed U-shaped wavy pattern. The central section equips a power plant, parking facility, and other airport amenities. The 8.1 mile long AirTrain system and access roads have been used to connect the terminals. The AirTrain system is also referred to as AirTrain JFK which serves as an elevated people mover system and airport link system in the airport.

Terminal 111 gates
Terminal 211 jetbridge-equipped gates
Terminal 438 gates
Terminal 529 gates
Terminal 712 gates
Terminal 829 gates

JFK Airport Runway Information

John F. Kennedy International Airport features 4 runways with designation RWY 13R/31L, RWY 13L/31R, RWY 4R/22L, and RWY 4L/22R.

RWY 13R/31L14,511 ft by 200 ftConcrete
RWY 13L/31R10,000 ft by 200 ftConcrete
RWY 4R/22L8,400 ft by 200 ftAsphalt
RWY 4L/22R12,079 ft by 200 ftConcrete

The JFK Airport also equips four helipads numbered from H1 to H4.

H160 ft (18 m)Asphalt
H260 ft (18 m)Asphalt
H360 ft (18 m)Asphalt
H460 ft (18 m)Asphalt

Airlines Operating at JFK Airport

Aer LingusDublin, Shannon, Manchester
Aerolineas ArgentinasBuenos Aires
AeromexicoMexico City
Air China Beijing
Air EuropaMadrid
Air FranceCharles de Gaulle-Paris, Orly-Paris
Air IndiaDelhi
Air SenegalDakar
Air Serbia Belgrade
Alaska AirlinesSeattle/Tacoma, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland
All Nippon AirwaysNarita-Tokyo, Haneda-Tokyo
American AirlinesMajor domestic and international destinations
American EagleWashington, Toronto, Richmond, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Nashville, Montreal, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Boston
Asiana AirlinesSeoul-Incheon
Austrian AirlinesVienna
AviancaBogota, Medellin, Cali
Avianca Costa RicaSan Jose de Costa Rica
Avianca EcuadorGuayaquil
Avianca El SalvadorSan Salvador
Azerbaijan AirlinesBaku
Azores Airlines Seasonal flight to Funchal
British AirwaysLondon-Heathrow
Brussels AirlinesBrussels
Cape Air Martha’s Vineyard and seasonal flights to Hyannis, Nantucket
Caribbean AirlinesTobago, St.Vincent, Port of Spain, Montego Bay, Kingston, Georgetown, Barbados
Cathay PacificHong Kong
Cayman AirwaysGrand Cayman
China AirlinesTaipei
China Eastern AirlinesShanghai
China Southern AirlineGuangzhou
Copa AirlinesPanama City
Delta Air LinesMajor Domestic and International Sectors
Delta ConnectionMajor Domestic and International Sectors
Eastern AirlinesGuayaquil, Belo Horizonte
EgyptAir Cairo
El AlTel Aviv
EmiratesDubai Internationa, Milan
Ethiopian AirlinesAddis Ababa
Etihad AirwaysAbu Dhabi
EVA AirTaipei
Seasonal flights to Stockholm
Hainan AirlinesChengdu, Chongqing
Hawaiian AirlinesHonolulu
Iberia AirlinesMadrid
ITA AirwaysRome
Japan AirlinesHaneda-Tokyo
JetBlueMajor Domestic and International Sectors
Kenya Airways Nairobi
Korean AirSeoul
Kuwait AirwaysKuwait City
LATAM BrasilSao Paulo
LATAM ChileLima, Santiago de Chile
LATAM EcuadorGuayaquil
Level Barcelona
LOT Polish AirlinesWarsaw
LufthansaFrankfurt, Munich
Neos Milan
Philippine AirlinesManila
Qatar AirwaysDoha
Royal Air MarocCasablanca
Royal JordanianAmman-Queen Alia
SaudiaRiyadh, Jeddah
Singapore AirlinesSingapore, Frankfurt
Swiss International Air LinesGeneva, Zurich
TAP Air PortugalLisbon
Turkish AirlinesIstanbul
Ukraine International AirlinesKyiv-Boryspil
United AirlinesSan Francisco, Los Angeles
Uzbekistan AirwaysTashkent
Virgin AtlanticLondon-Heathrow, Manchester
VivaAerobusMexico City
Volaris Costa RicaSan Jose de Costa Rica, San Salvador
boeing 747 approaching jfk airport aviatechchannel
JFK Approach (Airports in NYC)

Major domestic destinations from JFK Airport

Los AngelesAlaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines
MiamiAmerican Airlines, Delta Air Lines
Fort LauderdaleDelta Air Lines, JetBlue
OrlandoDelta Air Lines, JetBlue
San JuanDelta Air Lines, JetBlue
AtlantaDelta Air Lines, JetBlue
San FranciscoAlaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue, American Airlines
CharlotteAmerican Airlines, Delta Air Lines
Salt Lake CityDelta Air Lines, JetBlue
Seattle/TacomaAlaska Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines

Major international destinations from JFK Airport

London-HeathrowAmerican Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines
Charles de Gaulle-ParisAir France, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines
Mexico CityAeromexico, VivaAerobus, Delta Air Lines
AmsterdamDelta Air Lines, KLM
MadridAir Europa, Iberia Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines
Santiago de los CaballerosJetBlue, Delta Air Lines
IstanbulTurkish Airlines
Santo DomingoJetBlue, Delta Air Lines
MilanNeos, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, American Airlines
FrankfurtDelta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa

JFK Airport Technical Information

ELEVATION13 ft (4 m)
AREA4,930 acres
RUNWAY4L/22R (Concrete)4R/22L (Asphalt)13L/31R (Concrete)13R/31L (Concrete)

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Newark Liberty International Airport (ICAO: KEWR, IATA: EWR, FAA LID: EWR) is an international airport located in New Jersey and serving the New York metropolitan area. It is one of the major airports in NYC covering an area of 2,027 acres.

Over 50 air carriers operate flights to and from the Newark Libe Liberty International Airport. The airport is also the third-largest hub for United Airlines. The airport equips three runways with designation RWY 4L/22R, RWY 4R/22L, and RWY 11/29.

newark liberty international airport aviatechchannel
Newark LIberty International Airport (Airports in NYC)

EWR Airport History

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) was originally known as Newark Metropolitan Airport when it opened on 1st October 1928. It became the first-ever airport to serve the New York Metropolitan Area.

The Newark Metropolitan Airport was the busiest and one of the major airports in NYC until the operation of LaGuardia Airport began in December 1939.

The name Newark Liberty International Airport was declared in 2002 following the hijacking and crash of United Airlines Flight 93 and the September 11 attacks in 2001. The name was finalized to pay tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks. Besides, the word ‘Liberty’ also reflect tribute to the Statue of Liberty which lies just 7 miles east of EWR.

Singapore Airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue, and Southwest Airlines operated scheduled flights from Newark Liberty International Airport.

EWR Airport Facilities

newark liberty international airport terminal1 aviatechchannel
Newark LIberty International Airport Terminal (Airports in NYC)

Newark Liberty International Airport features three terminals with 121 gates. The three terminals are categorized as Terminal A, Terminal B, and Terminal C. Each terminal equips three concourses.

Terminal A29 gates
Terminal B24 gates
Terminal C68 gates

EWR Runway Information

The airport covering an area of 2,027 acres features three runways and one helipad.

RWY 4L/22R11,000 ft by 150 ftAsphalt/Concrete
RWY 4R/22L10,000 ft by 150 ftAsphalt
RWY 11/296,726 ft by 150 ft Asphalt
Helipad H154 ft by 54 ftAsphalt

Airlines Operating at EWR

Aer LingusDublin
Air CanadaCalgary, Vancouver
Air Canada ExpressMontreal, Toronto, Ottawa
Air ChinaBeijing
Air IndiaDelhi, Mumbai
Alaska AirlinesSeattle/Tacoma, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles
Allegiant AirSavannah, Cincinnati, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Grand Rapids, Asheville, Knoxville (Seasonal)
American AirlinesPhoenix-Sky Harbor, Chicago-O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte, Miami
American EagleChicago-O’Hare
Austrian AirlinesVienna
British AirwaysLondon-Heathrow
Delta Air LinesAtlanta, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
El AlTel Aviv
Elite AirwaysSt. Augustine, Melbourne/Orlando, Vero Beach (Seasonal)
EmiratesDubai-international, Athens
Ethiopian AirlinesAddis Ababa, Lome
French BeeParis-Orly
Frontier AirlinesSan Juan, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Montego Bay, Nassau, Orlando, Providenciales
JetBlueMajor Domestic and International Destinations
La CompagnieParis-Orly, Milan-Malpensa
LOT Polish AirlinesWarsaw-Chopin
LufthansaFrankfurt, Munich
Porter AirlinesToronto
Scandinavian AirlinesCopenhagen, Oslo, Arlanda, Stockholm
Singapore AirlinesSingapore
Spirit AirlinesWest Palm Beach, Tampa, San Juan, Orlando, New Orleans, Nashville, Myrtle Beach, Miami, Las Vegas, Houston, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Austin, Atlanta
Sun Country AirlinesMinneapolis/St. Paul
Swiss International Air LinesZurich
TAP Air PortugalLisbon, Porto
Turkish AirlinesIstanbul
United AirlinesMajor Domestic and International Sectors
United ExpressMajor Domestic and International Sectors
VivaAerobusCancun (Seasonal)

Major Domestic Destinations from EWR

OrlandoFrontier Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines
Fort LauderdaleJetBlue, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines
MiamiUnited Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, American Airlines
AtlantaUnited Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines
CharlotteAmerican Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines
San JuanUnited Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines
Los AngelesAlaska Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue
HoustonSpirit Airlines, United Airlines
TampaUnited Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines
Chicago-O’HareAmerican Airlines, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines
newark liberty international airport terminal aviatechchannel
Newark LIberty International Airport (Airports in NYC)

Major International Destinations from EWR

London-HeathrowBritish Airways, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines
Tel AvivEl Al, United Airlines
Toronto-PearsonAir Canada, United Airlines
FrankfurtUnited Airlines, Lufthansa
TorontoPorter Airlines
Santo DomingoJetBlue, United Airlines
CancunVivaAerobus, JetBlue, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines
DublinAer Lingus, United Airlines
MumbaiAir India, United Airlines
MunichUnited Airlines, Lufthansa

EWR Technical Information

ELEVATION17.4 ft. / 5.3 m AMSL
AREA2,027 acres
RUNWAY4L/22R (Asphalt/Concrete)4R/22L (Asphalt)11/29 (Asphalt)Helipad H1 (Asphalt)

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

LaGuardia Airport (ICAO: KLGA, IATA: LGA, FAA LID: LGA) is one of the major airports in NYC located in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York City. The airport covers an area of 680 acres and is named after former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. 

The airport primarily focuses on domestic flight operations. It became the third-busiest airport in the New York Metropolitan Area behind John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). In terms of passenger volume, the airport is listed as the 21st busiest in the United States.

laguardia airport aviatechchannel
LaGuardia Airport (Airports in NYC)

LGA Airport History

The plan for the construction of LaGuardia Airport was initiated with an effort of the New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia. The airport was opened on 15th October 1939 and was originally known as New York Municipal Airport. The commercial operation began on 2nd December 1939.

The airport went through various expansion and enhancement projects to accommodate an increasing number of passengers. 

American Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Northeast Airlines, Trans World Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, and other carriers started operating scheduled commercial flights to and from LaGuardia Airport.

Facilities at LGA Airport

As one of the major airports in NYC, LaGuardia Airport features 4 terminals (Terminal A, Terminal B, Terminal C, and Terminal D) accommodating 72 gates. Buses and walkways are used to connect the terminals.

Terminal A10 gates
Terminal B40 gates
Terminal C10 gates
Terminal D12 gates

LGA Runway Information

LaGuardia Airport features two runways (RWY 04/22 and RWY 13/31) and two helipads (H1 and H2).

RWY 04/227,001 ft by 2,134 ftAsphalt
RWY 13/317,003 ft by 2,135 ftAsphalt
H160 ftAsphalt
H260 ftAsphalt
laguardia airport terminal aviatechchannel
LaGuardia Airport (Airports in NYC)

Airlines Operating at LGA

Air CanadaToronto, Montreal
Air Canada ExpressToronto, Montreal
American AirlinesMajor Domestic and International Sectors
American EagleMajor Domestic and International Sectors
Delta Air LinesMajor Domestic and International Sectors
Delta ConnectionMajor Domestic and International Sectors
Frontier AirlinesAtlanta, Tampa, Orlando, Miami
JetBlueOrlando, West Palm Beach, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Charleston, Savannah
Southwest AirlinesTampa, Orlando, St. Louis, Sarasota, Nashville, Kansas City, Houston, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore
Spirit AirlinesChicago, Miami, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, San Juan, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Myrtle Beach, Nashville
United AirlinesChicago-O’Hare, Washington, Houston, Denver
United ExpressChicago-O’Hare, Houston, Washington

Major domestic destination from LGA

Fort LauderdaleUnited Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines
AtlantaAmerican Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines
MiamiAmerican Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Air Lines
OrlandoAmerican Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, Delta Air Lines
Dallas/Fort WorthAmerican Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Delta Air Lines
Chicago-O’HareAmerican Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines
CharlotteDelta Air Lines, American Airlines
DenverAmerican Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue
DetroitAmerican Airlines, Delta Airlines, Spirit Airlines
TampaSpirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines

LGA (Airports in NYC) Technical Information

AREA680 acres
RUNWAY04/22 (Asphalt/Concrete)13/31 (Asphalt/Concrete)H1 (Asphalt)H2 (Asphalt)

What are the 3 major airports in NYC?

The New York City metropolitan area is served by three major airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). These airports are key transportation hubs, collectively managing a substantial portion of air traffic for the region.

Is it better to fly into LaGuardia or JFK?

The choice between flying into LaGuardia (LGA) or John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) depends on various factors such as your specific travel needs, destination, and preferences. JFK is a larger and more widely used international airport, offering a broader range of flights and destinations.

On the other hand, LaGuardia is closer to Manhattan and might be more convenient if you’re primarily staying in that area. Consider factors like airlines serving each airport, your final destination, and transportation options when deciding which airport is better for your travel plans.

What is the best airport to fly into when going to New York City?

The best airport to fly into when going to New York City depends on various factors such as your specific travel preferences, location within the city, and the availability of flights. Generally, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is a major international hub with a wide range of flights and services.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is another option, particularly if you’re focused on the northern or central parts of the city. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey is also commonly used and offers convenient access to Manhattan.

Which airport is cheaper to fly into NYC?

Generally, LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is considered the most cost-effective option for flying into New York City. Several factors contribute to this, including its focus on domestic airlines, which often offer lower fares than international carriers. The airport’s competitive environment, with a higher number of airlines operating from LGA, fosters increased competition and the possibility of reduced ticket prices.

Is EWR or LGA closer to Manhattan?

LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is more proximate to Manhattan compared to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). The approximate distances reflect this difference, with LGA to Times Square measuring about 8.5 miles (13.7 km), while EWR to Times Square is approximately 16 miles (25.7 km).

The shorter distance from LaGuardia to central Manhattan can result in quicker and more convenient transportation options for travelers heading into the heart of the city.

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Suman Karki
Suman Karki is the founder of the AviaTech Channel blog and YouTube Channel. He is a passionate aviation enthusiast and holds experience working as a Ground Operations Officer for Swissport International. He is currently serving as a Flight Data Feeder for FlightAware (a US-based company for Flight Tracking). Besides, he has worked as an aviation content editor for various aviation media.



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