LaGuardia Airport celebrates completion of groundbreaking new facilities
Reputation has gone 'from worst to best’
Air travelers, transportation administrators and elected officials alike on Thursday celebrated the completion of new facilities at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B, which serves American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada and other major airlines.
The completion and opening of Terminal B’s western skybridge, and the opening this past December of Terminal B’s second concourse, means that every arriving and departing passenger at Terminal B will experience newly-built, 21st century architecture and facilities. All of the terminal’s temporary walkways will now be taken out of service by this Saturday, Jan. 29.
With the completion of the second pedestrian bridge, which will span an active aircraft taxiway, Terminal B also becomes the world’s first airport with dual pedestrian skybridges.
“The transformation of LaGuardia Airport into a world-class destination that is internationally recognized for its beauty is an integral part of our bold vision for a new era in New York,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at the ceremony on Thursday. “The completion of this $4 billion project will help provide a brand new passenger experience for everyone traveling through Terminal B, easing connections and creating lasting impressions.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “It’s time to get New York City moving again, and a world-class airport here in Queens will help us do that. This is a whole new LaGuardia, and I want to thank Governor Hochul, the Port Authority, and all of our partners who helped make this happen. This is how we ‘Get Stuff Done’ together.”
For years, LaGuardia was considered outdated by passengers. “I think if you looked at every single passenger survey, LaGuardia was always the worst,” says Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in 2015, after federal authorities approved renovations.
The previous year, then-Vice President Joe Biden said, “If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you’d think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’”
The renovation of LaGuardia, two-thirds of which is funded through private financing and existing passenger fees, finally broke ground in 2016.
In February 2018, the new Terminal B parking garage opened with more than 3,000 spaces and a dedicated level for Uber, Lyft and other for-hire car services. In December 2018, the first of 18 new gates and the first new concourse in Terminal B opened. In October 2019, Delta Air Lines opened its first new concourse and seven new gates.
In June 2020, the soaring new arrivals and departures Hall at Terminal B opened its doors. In August 2020, a second new concourse at Terminal B opened its first gates, followed by the opening of additional gates in December 2021. Terminal B recently received the UNESCO’s 2021 Prix Versailles, the global architecture and design award, for the best new airport in the world.
On Thursday, the aforementioned Port Authority Executive Director Cotton, who had complained about the “old” LaGuardia Airport during the previous decade, said, “From a passenger point of view, the old LaGuardia is no more. We have gone from worst to best, something no one thought was possible when this project began. Terminal B creates a top-of-the-line passenger experience and does so in the context of world-class architecture.”
As one of Terminal B’s most distinct architectural elements, the pair of skybridges span active aircraft taxi lanes, connecting the new, light-filled arrivals and departures hall to the terminal’s two island concourses, according to the Port Authority.
The construction of both skybridges has enabled more than two additional miles of taxiway space to be built, reducing delays for arrivals and departures and will help ease customers’ ability to travel to their gates. Planes have been taxiing under the eastern skybridge since the spring of 2021 and will be able to successfully taxi below the western skybridge beginning in summer 2022.
“I love airports,” Hochul commented during her remarks. “I know every inch of the airports, having been lieutenant governor, I traveled 370,000 miles, much of it by cars, some of it by plane, literally every week this was my commute. And so, I got to know the hardworking individuals who work at the gates and greet you. The baggage handlers, the staff, the restaurant workers, the airline workers. Everybody who’s part of this ecosystem. I want to give them a shout out because in the darkest days of the pandemic, when everybody was scared and stayed home, these workers showed up day after day.”
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