MIAMI — From 1991 to 1992 New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport changed substantially due to planned construction, the demise of Pan Am, and the geopolitical situation overseas.  

Among the visible changes was the ongoing construction of a new air traffic control (ATC) tower; Delta’s takeover of Pan Am’s operations; and some changes in the Aeroflot livery after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Between 1991 and 1992, the original ATC tower was quickly dwarfed by the construction of a new and taller (321-foot) tower (at the time, the tallest in the world), designed by Pei Cobb Fried & Partners, that would eventually begin operations in 1994.  The original ATC tower was eventually  demolished.

(Credits: Author)
(Credits: Author)

Goodbye Pan Am, Hello Delta


The iconic Terminal 3 (the “Worldport”) had been used by Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) since its construction in 1960.  On January 8, 1991, Pan Am declared bankruptcy, and Delta Airlines bought some of its assets, including 45 aircraft and the Worldport.  

The most noticeable change to Delta’s fleet was the incorporation of Pan Am’s Airbus A310s, after Pan Am’s demise on December 4, 1991.  Delta stayed at Terminal 3 until it was closed in May 2013 and now operates out of Terminals 2 and 4 at JFK.  The final demolition of the historic Terminal 3 will take place in 2015.

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Delta widebodies at JFK in 1992, including Pan Am’s former A310s (Credits: Author)
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(Credits: Author)

New flag for Aeroflot


In August 1991 a failed coup against the reformist government in the former Soviet Union prompted the rapid collapse of the country.  On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved.  

At the time the Soviet national airline Aeroflot was serving JFK from Moscow using an Ilyushin Il-62M.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of the livery was on the tail, featuring the red Soviet flag with the yellow hammer and sickle on the top left corner.  

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Aeroflot became Russia’s main airline, and instead of opting for new livery, the airline used decals of the Russian flag to cover the old Soviet one.  The hasty patchwork was clearly visible on the tail.  Aeroflot used a gate in Terminal 3 for its operations.

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Aeroflot used Delta’s gates for its Ilyushin Il-62M service to Moscow; Russian flag was hastily placed on top of U.S.S.R. flag after collapse of Soviet Union. (Credits: Author)
(Credits: Author)
(Credits: Author)