LaGuardia Airport to Get Massive Facelift

Officials at New York’s LaGuardia Airport could have become insulted last year when Vice President Joe Biden said if he blindfolded a man and took him to the outdated airport, he would think he was in a Third World country. Instead, they are rejoicing. The vice president’s unabashed statement has helped push through what might have been a long and drawn out approval process for revamping the congested, aging airport.

Biden joined New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Times Square July 27 to announce a plan that calls for demolishing and then completely rebuilding the structure. The modern redesign will replace the cramped, waterfront facility with a larger terminal and considerably more space for aircraft to taxi to their gates. To accomplish this, the new structure will relocate 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, the highway closest to the airport. The current plan calls for two miles of new taxiways to be created on the ground, while passengers will roam overhead on elevated passageways. Runways will remain intact.

USA Today reports that pending approval from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, phase one of construction will begin in 2016. According to Cuomo, phase one of the plan will address terminals A & B and cost $4 billion, half of which will be privately funded. It is projected to be publically unveiled in 2019; the airport will remain open during construction.

The second phase of development will be overseen by Delta Air Lines, a partner in the project. Delta, which owns terminals C & D, remodeled them two years ago but will do additional work to unify them with the new terminal. The second phase of development is expected to open 18 months after the first.

What Will Be New

As reports, the new LaGuardia will include a central arrivals and departures hall, a 200-room hotel and new parking garages. The overhaul also includes connecting LaGuardia to the New York City subway system, the Long Island Rail Road and high-speed ferries.

LaGuardia Airport, located in Queens, is just eight miles from midtown Manhattan. Last year it handled about 27 million passengers. The airport has ranked highly on Travel+Leisure’s list of America’s worst airports for years due to its crumbling infrastructure and disconnected terminals.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow is pleased with the new developments. “Vice President Biden’s fortuitously infamous and plainspoken assessment of LaGuardia has helped bring about a very favorable result: an investment in the long-term health of the airport that will pay massive benefits for the New York region and even cascade throughout the country. We thank the vice president for his candor, and we congratulate Gov. Cuomo for having the vision and courage to press ahead with this ambitious plan,” he said.

Reflecting on his bold statement, Biden quipped, “I wish everything I said that was truthful but controversial would turn out this well.”

Cuomo clearly welcomes the idea of a revamped LaGuardia Airport. “LaGuardia is un-New York,” Cuomo said. “It is a terrible front door entrance way to New York….it is almost universally decried as a poor representation of an airport, let alone a New York airport.”

Cuomo praised the decision to move forward with the plan. “New York had an aggressive, can-do approach to big infrastructure in the past – and today, we’re moving forward with that attitude once again,” he said. “We are transforming LaGuardia into a globally-renowned, 21st century airport that is worthy of the city and state of New York.”

Join 54,000 of your peers who have subscribed to Smart Meetings magazine – FREE!