For months I had planned on documenting the last day of New York JFK International Airport’s Terminal 3 operations, the former Pan Am Worldport, on the 23rd of May 2013. After back and forth emails Delta Air Lines declined my access to the historic terminal last week, as well as other media outlets interested in creating a historic record of the iconic terminal’s end.
Officially Delta Air Lines states that all of its corporate communications staff will be busy on the 23rd of May in preparation of the grand launch of its new facilities in Terminal 4, opening on the 24th of May. Delta has invested significantly in upgrading JFK’s Terminal 4 as well as building it out. The airline and the New York New Jersey Port Authority have battled with activists and organizations seeking to save Terminal 3 and now want to close it with no final farewell after its more then five decades of service and long storied history.
While the public answer that Delta Air Lines cannot allocate media relations staff or customer service representatives to act as media escorts within Terminal 3 this coming Thursday, even for the final flights pushing off the gates signaling the terminal’s final moments, the real reason appears to be a bit of fear.
Just six days after Delta ceases operations at Terminal 3, on the 29th of May, Save The Worldport, an organization dedicated to preserving the original ‘saucer’ portion if the terminal is scheduled to speak a the Port Authority’s monthly meeting. Save The Worldport will once again present options for saving the original structure, now with the intention of appealing that Terminal 3, The Worldport, be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Terminal 3 failed to be placed on New York’s historic landmark registry in large part because neither the Port Authority nor Delta Air Lines supported it, as well as the original structure having been altered. On the federal level however, the support of Port Authority or Delta Air Lines may not be needed.
Previously Save The Worldport has been successful in gaining local, national and international media attention from the print and online media, as well as being featured on the CBS Evening News. Should further attention be drawn to the closing of Terminal 3, an iconic building seared into the public’s collective memory due to its appearances in countless movies, TV shows and advertising campaigns, Delta Air Lines runs the risk of Save The Worldport gaining further exposure and support … and the tide potentially beginning to turn against the demolition the structure.
While it is important for Delta Air Lines to undertake a significant media blitz on the 24th of May when the new and improved JFK Terminal 4 is unveiled to the public, internally it is equally as important for the airline to keep the closure of Terminal 3 out of the public conversation. The first step in controlling that conversation is by blocking the media outlets that cover airlines and travel, as well as the general media, from creating impacting content of the final stories to be told inside Terminal 3 as it goes dark after 53 years of sending passengers on their way to destinations around the world.
As I stated last week when I wrote A Historic Chapter In Aviation Closes & It Won’t Be Documented, pulling the curtain shut and saying ‘nothing to see here’ denies history because it does not align with the future corporate message is a travesty.