Los Angeles International Airport officials officially opened a new concourse at Terminal 3 on Wednesday, Oct. 5, marking the completion of the third phase of construction on a new terminal.
The terminal, built in 1961, was torn down in 2020 to make way for a new facility. Eight out of nine gates have been completed, with the ninth scheduled to be ready by early next year. The project is ahead of schedule by 18 months, according to airport officials.
Keeping pace is vital. Looming on the horizon for LAX — managed by Los Angeles World Airports, which is owned by the city of L.A .— are the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics.
The airport is in the midst of a $15-billion modernization program encompassing all nine of the airport’s terminals and including an “Automated People Mover” rail system and a consolidated car-rental facility.
On Wednesday, LAX showed off another section of its revitalized terminal, the latest step in the $2.3 billion project in partnership with Delta Air Lines. This part of the airport’s facelift is expected to be completed by fall 2023 with a connector bridge from Terminal 3 to Tom Bradley International Terminal.
The new Automated People Mover (APM) train car is unveil at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. The Automated People Mover (APM) is an electric train system on a 2.25-mile elevated guideway with six stations total, three inside the Central Terminal Area (CTA) and three outside the CTA. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, Pool)
“Elevating the guest experience is pivotal in our ongoing work to build a better LAX, and we are thrilled to see the next major phase of this project completed in partnership with Delta Air Lines,” said Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports. “The new Terminal 3 concourse includes best-in-class passenger amenities and technology, and showcases our vision for a fully modernized airport.”
The project has involved more than 4.5 million work hours, according to officials.
Construction at LAX is speeding along at a fever pitch, as officials aim to keep the promise of a brighter, streamlined, easier to navigate airport by the time athletes arrives in town for the third L.A. Olympiad.
In May 2021, the $1.7 billion, 15-gate West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal debuted. In October that year, the $294 million LAX Economy Parking facility — like the Automated People Mover, it’s part of the LAMP initiative — opened to the public.
A month later, United and Los Angeles World Airports cut the ribbon on the airline’s new $352 million technical operations center.
And in March, LAX, Los Angeles and Delta Air Lines officials cut the ribbon on the first phase of a multi-billion-dollar makeover of Terminals 2 and 3.
Construction on the Automated People Mover has also moved swiftly — and is on pace to be ready within about four years of the project getting underway.
The airport’s long-awaited Automated People Mover will eventually allow the airport’s growing throng of post-pandemic travelers to forego the congestion that is currently the hallmark of flying out of the City of Angels.
Los Angeles World Airports and Delta officials take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at he Terminal 3 concourse, featuring eight new gates and seating areas, on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
The new Maintenance and Storage Facility, unveiled in August, will act as the operational hub for the new rail line.
“The Automated People Mover will be so much more than another way to get to LAX,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “It’s the piece of the puzzle that will curb the congestion that has been plaguing our airport for decades.”
The system, which is set to open in 2023, is meant to reduce congestion around Los Angeles International Airport while also connecting folks to the country’s fifth-busiest travel hub via regional public transportation, including LA Metro.
Earlier this year, workers finished pouring 69,700 cubic yards of concrete for the system’s 2.25-mile elevated guideway structure. Five of six bridges over World Way have also been completed, with the last one set for completion later this year.
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The Automated People Mover is part of the $5.5 billion Landside Access Modernization Program, which also includes a consolidated Rent-A-Car facility, intermodal transportation facilities and roadway improvements, according to Los Angeles World Airports.
Once operational, the driverless train cars — boasting large windows, multiple hand rails and 12 seats each — will arrive at each of the six stations every two minutes during peak travel times, LAWA said. A roundtrip will take 10 minutes.
Half of the stations will be inside the Central Terminal Area and half will be outside. The latter stations will connect to the new LAX Economy Parking, light-rail transportation and the Rent-A-Car facility, LAWA said.
The train cars will also be environmentally friendly, officials said.
“Innovation, sustainability and state-of-the-art technology are integral to our ongoing modernization,” Erbacci said. “These Automated People Mover train cars will set a high standard for environmentally sustainable transportation, having shells made of recyclable materials and achieving zero emissions. We look forward to seeing the cars in action when we begin testing them in 2023.”
Just last week, officials announced the completion of the final Automated People Mover pedestrian bridge structure over World Way, moving one step closer to connecting the Tom Bradley International Terminal with the future West Central Terminal Area station.
The construction on the sixth and final bridge closed some roads at LAX, but work was finished ahead of schedule on three out of four nights, according to officials.
The work included assembling four steel trusses weighing over 270,000 pounds above World Way and bolting them together to create the bridge’s structural frame. The six bridges together include more than 3,600 tons of steel, with the project total at more than 9,000 tons.
The bridges are all in various stages of construction. The next step in the project is to establish the Automated People Mover systems and test train cars, according to Sam Choy, project director for LINXS Constructors.
Erbacci said the result of the project is “coming into view” and called the walkway a “remarkable achievement on our journey to reimagine the travel experience at LAX, while continuing to operate the fifth-busiest airport in the world.”
Passengers wait to board their plane at the newly renovated Terminal 3 concourse, featuring eight new gates and seating areas, on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.(Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
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All this work is aimed to ease record-breaking increases in travelers at the world’s fifth-busiest airport.
LAX reported more than 1.8 million international travelers passing through the airport in July, a 97% increase compared to the same month last year. That contributed to a nearly 14% total increase in passengers in July compared to a year ago, with 6.3 million people passing through the gates.
“The strong rebound in international travel that we have seen during the peak summer months is very encouraging and adding to our overall growth in passenger numbers this season,” Erbacci said.
Erbacci added that LAX is poised to enter the fall and winter holiday travel seasons in the strongest position since the start of the pandemic.
Through the first half of 2022, overall passenger traffic at LAX is up 57% compared to the same time period last year, with international travel up by 142%.
The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report