When you think of things that are synonymous with New York City you're likely to include the Statue of Liberty, the Yankees, the Empire State Building and Central Park. If you were to extend that to include New York airports that are famous for the volume of air freight and passengers that they process you're going to inevitably include JFK International Airport.
Located just 15 miles from Manhattan the airport plays a significant part in the commerce of New York City, the airport was originally commonly known as Idlewild Airport from its opening in 1948 until December 24th 1963 when it was renamed in honor of President John F Kennedy. As one of the leading air freight and passenger hubs in the Northeast the airport handles over 1.3 million tons of air freight/air cargo per year.
Therefore it's no surprise that proposals to move its air cargo operations to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor comes as a shock that will be met with stubborn resistance. Stewart is located about 60 miles north of Manhattan and historically had been a military airfield until the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey acquired the lease back in 2007. The state now looks to move all air freight operations to the airport to make JFK an airport that was more 'passenger-friendly' with the Governor promising to attract industry around Stewart.
Such changes would be drastic in scale and economic impact to those who currently work handling air freight at JFK. Studies show that JFK is now the 19th busiest airport in the world in terms of air cargo tonnage and that the air freight industry associated with the airport directly and indirectly employees more than 50,000 people while creating more than $8.5 billion annually in sales for the metropolitan region. The push for relocation is in part driven by what are argued as improved road gateways from Stewart to the region and fewer truck restrictions that have had impact on the efficiencies of JFK. It's sure to be a thorny issue that will be debated at length over the months to come.
Gaining efficiencies in handling air freight drive forward the case for the transfer to Stewart but the economic impacts to JFK (and New York City itself) coupled with the huge resources of warehousing at the existing facility are all topics that counter the move. Another large part of the equation is that air freight traffic into Stewart would move to cargo only aircraft as opposed to much of the existing JFK tonnage being transported in the belly of passenger planes.
For further information read;
JFK upgrade spurs backlash over moving freight upstate (Chicago Tribune)