As loved as it is by locals, passenger comments on the airport’s official website describing its current facilities as “dirty”, “cramped” and “hot” arguably tell you all you need to know about why New York’s LaGuardia Airport requires a facelift.
Indeed, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) readily acknowledges that its once-state-of-the-art terminal is decades out of date and requires a makeover, stating: “Imagine squeezing 13 million people [per annum] into one terminal that is meant to hold eight million passengers.”
The good news, of course, is that there is a plan in place to address the situation, and phase one of its blueprint for the future centres around a $4 billion public-private partnership (PPP) project to redevelop LaGuardia’s central terminal area by building a new Terminal B.
In what is the largest PPP project ever undertaken for new transportation infrastructure in the US, LaGuardia Gateway Partners will design, build, manage and maintain LaGuardia’s new Terminal B under a 35-year lease agreement with PANYNJ.
The consortium comprises Canada’s Vantage Airport Group, Skanska USA and Meridiam.
The plan is for LaGuardia Gateway Partners to build a new, game-changing 35-gate Terminal B at the same time as Delta Air Lines transforms its facilities (Terminal C and Terminal D) in a separate $4 billion project to the east of the gateway.
New facilities are expected to start opening from 2018 and when both projects are fully completed, Terminal B will become the western half of a new, architecturally unified terminal that includes Delta’s facilities on its eastern side.
Located 600ft closer to the Grand Central Parkway – a 14.6 mile road system that stretches from the Robert F Kennedy Bridge in New York to Nassau County on Long Island – the new Terminal B set for completion in 2022 will be 1,300 million square feet bigger than the old PANYNJ-operated Terminal B building it is replacing.
It will boast spacious central Arrivals and Departures halls, utilise the most advanced technology and feature “top of the line” shopping and dining outlets.
There are also plans on the drawing board for Terminal B to have its own 200-room hotel on-site, parking garages and an internal tram system to quickly transport passengers across the entire complex.
In what is believed to be a world first, dual pedestrian bridges across live taxiways will link the terminal with Concourses A and B as part of an island-gate system.
Together, the relocated terminals and island-gate system will create nearly two miles of new taxiway space, which PANYNJ says it will use to ease congestion on the ground and reduce gate delays, something LaGuardia unfortunately has gained a bad reputation for in recent years.
Faster and more efficient aircraft taxiing times will also mean less carbon emissions, which will help reduce LaGuardia’s carbon footprint.
Unveiling the plan last year, New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, said: “Our plan will fundamentally transform LaGuardia – replacing what is now an outdated and poorly designed complex with the world-class airport New York has always deserved.”
LaGuardia Gateway Partners’ members have worked on more than 350 aviation and transportation projects globally, including international airports in New York (JFK), Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Chile, and The Bahamas.
Terminal B project will be financed by a combination of equity, debt and revenues and is expected to directly and indirectly create 8,000 new jobs.
Summing up its importance to New York, US Senator, Charles Schumer, said: “LaGuardia is one of New York’s greatest assets, and it’s time that we make the big investments needed to bring it up to speed for the 21st century.
“By redesigning the airport from top to bottom, this plan gives New Yorkers the facilities that our city and our state deserve. I’m glad Governor Cuomo and the Port Authority are stepping up on this huge infrastructure project, and look forward to seeing it move ahead.”
The totally separate Delta Air Lines project to replace LaGuardia’s existing Terminals C and D with new facilities will also cost $4 billion, $600 million of which will be contributed by PANYNJ.
A record 29.8 million passengers passed through LaGuardia in 2016 as New York’s airports handled over 130 million people between them annually for the first time.