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JFK Airport to mark 50th anniversary of renaming with 50 millionth passenger

NEW YORK - John F. Kennedy International Airport will soon mark the 50th anniversary since its renaming in 1963 in honor of the late President John F. Kennedy. The anniversary comes as the airport is on track to reach a record 50 million annual passengers by year’s end and as it celebrates the 10th anniversary today of the transformative AirTrain JFK service.

On Dec. 24, 1963, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith honored the memory of their brother, President Kennedy, during a ceremony at the old International Arrivals Building to mark the renaming of New York International Airport (more commonly known as Idlewild Airport) to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Among the dignitaries present were then-New York City Mayor Robert Wagner, then-New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes and then-agency Chairman S. Sloan Colt.

Nearly 800 guests attended the renaming ceremony, at which Senator Kennedy said, “This is a dedication of which President Kennedy would have been proud.’’

Fifty years later, as the airport also marks the 65th anniversary of its opening, JFK Airport is poised to reach 50 million annual passengers in the final days of 2013, which would shatter the airport’s current record of 49.3 million set only last year with slightly more than half of those travelers taking international flights.

Today also marks the 10th anniversary of the start of operations on AirTrain JFK on December 17, 2003, a date chosen because it was the 100th anniversary of the pioneering Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. AirTrain JFK has continually set ridership records, with the 2012 record of 5.7 million passengers expected to be eclipsed again this year.