What Does LaGuardia’s Revamp Mean for the Airport?

It has recently been announced that New York’s LaGuardia Airport is to undergo a huge transformation to include a brand new terminal which will serve approximately half of the passenger volume at LaGuardia.

It has recently been announced that New York’s LaGuardia Airport is to undergo a huge transformation to include a brand new terminal which will serve approximately half of the passenger volume at LaGuardia.

LaGuardia served in the upper region of 18.9 million passengers in 2014, and according to published schedules, the airport will complete a ten year capacity recovery this year with annual departure seats reaching a level similar to that recorded by the airport in 2005. 

According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, over 19 million seats will be available from the airport in the full calendar year, the first time the figure has been exceeded since 2005.  After this high in 2005, the airport witnessed four successive years of capacity decline as annual departure seats fell 14.6 per cent to just under 16.5 million in 2009.  Since then the airport has recorded five successive years of modest year-on-year capacity growth, and this year is forecasted to see a growth of 2.3 per cent.

Vancouver-based operator, Vantage and Swedish construction company Skanska AB are among 12 members of a consortium that were selected to help finance, build and manage a $3.6 billion replacement for LaGuardia’s 50-year-old central terminal.

The airport, in the borough of Queens is consistently ranked among the worst in the US in cleanliness, design and delays. The new plans call for a new 35-gate terminal with more restaurants and lounges, bigger gate areas and improved passenger and baggage screenings.

“For too long, LaGuardia has been the stepchild of our region’s airports compared to JFK and Newark International,” Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler said in a statement.

Construction of the new Terminal B is expected to start in the first quarter of 2016, after the Port Authority’s decision was delayed last October following a design competition announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

At 1.3 million square feet, the terminal will be nearly 40 percent larger than the building it replaces, meaning it should be much more able to meet the expectations of the ‘modern passenger’.

A larger terminal also means more room for airside movements and parking which should help to reduce delays.

Stewart Steeves, Vantage Airport Group’s CFO and the consortium’s president and CEO, said in a press release that LPG is looking forward “to partnering with the port authority on this significant project for the city and state of New York.”

“We will develop a world-class facility and bring the level of operational expertise needed to deliver the airport New Yorkers deserve, both during construction and throughout long-term operations,” he added.

Most transcontinental flights use JFK or Newark, as do all international flights except those from pre-cleared Canadian airports within the perimeter.

The return of capacity growth at LaGuardia has been driven by North America’s low-cost carriers.  Although the majors such as Delta Air Lines, the largest operator at the New York airport, and United Airlines have grown their capacity by upwards of 40 per cent since the capacity low of 2009, it is Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways that lead the way in terms of capacity climbs. 

Southwest has more than trebled its offering from the airport over the past five years and is now the fourth largest operator, while JetBlue has almost doubled its departure capacity and will this year offer over one million annual seats from LaGuardia for the first time, based on published schedules.  The past couple of years have also seen Canadian carrier WestJet Airlines and US operator Virgin America introduce flights with links from Toronto and Dallas Love Field, respectively.

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