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brokes ground Friday on a $1.2 billion terminal expansion at New York's Kennedy Airport.

As important and as contested as they already are, international airports such as Kennedy, Los Angeles International and Miami International are becoming even more important and more competitive as transatlantic and transpacific alliances have won approval, enabling closer cooperation between domestic and international carriers, and as mergers have added heft at two of the Big Three U.S. carriers.

American and Jetblue airplanes taxi at New York's JFK Airport

Currently, Delta generally operates domestic flights out of Terminal 2 and international flights from an aging Terminal 3. The

improved Terminal 4, which will have nine international gates, will replace Terminal 3. Delta serves about 11 million Kennedy passengers annually. Work will continue for several years.

As a modern, state-of-the art facility, Terminal 4 will rival the terminals used by


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On Thursday, American and JetBlue expanded an

existing partnership to include reciprocal frequent flier benefits. Also, American and partner American Eagle began service Thursday from Kennedy to five destinations: Rio de Janiero, Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale, Indianapolis and Norfolk.

On Wednesday, Delta

announced new routes for 2011, including a sixth-daily Kennedy-Paris flight and a Miami-London Heathrow flight.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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Ted Reed