Ready for take-off


New York’s LaGuardia Airport has faced criticism for many years, but now the domestic airport is due to be reconstructed as part of a $4bn plan announced by New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 2012 the airport was voted “America’s worst”, with problems such as delays, faltering infrastructure, and a lack of reliable transport connections all impacting on the hub.

But now the fragmented terminal lay-out is due to be removed, with a unified terminal set to replace it. The new airport will incorporate a rail link and ferry terminal, and is planned to double the operating space for aircraft, as well as cutting delays and carbon emissions from idling planes.

Overall, the airport will be used by 35m passengers by 2030 – with the new structure set to be in operation potentially as early as 2019.

In its current state, the airport contributes approximately $16.3bn in economic activity to the region, and its rehabilitation is expected to drastically increase that figure, as well as create 8,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs during the construction process.

The grand refurbishment

Plans to overhaul LaGuardia began in 2012, when rebuilding began on some of the smaller parts of the existing airport, under the authorisation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) – a joint venture overseeing any new-build transportation infrastructure in the region.

The first announcement introducing plans for the grand refurbishment was made by Cuomo in his January 2014 state address, when the governor highlighted revitalising local transport networks as one of his main goals in office.

“Our airport modernisation plan not only enhances how our individual airports look and act in the 21st century, but addresses how they must fundamentally work together to strategically grow New York’s economy,” Cuomo said at the time.

Then at the beginning of 2015, Dan Tishman, vice president at AECOM Technology Corporation, was appointed chair of an Airport Advisory Panel, and tasked with overseeing the final plan for LaGuardia’s reconstruction – leading to a report being published in July 2015.

“For far too long, LaGuardia has been subjected to underinvestment and sporadic and piecemeal development with no overarching vision or plan on what the airport should be,” the report concluded.

Following Cuomo’s vote of approval, the grand two-stage plan was confirmed – involving the demolition and reconstruction of the main Terminal B on the airport’s western wing, followed by a parallel overhaul of its eastern side.

The first half of the process, known as the CTB Replacement Project, is currently pending PANYNJ’s approval, which is expected to be granted in early 2016. Construction is then set to start soon after.

The first stage

Once Central Terminal B (CTB) has been demolished, it will be replaced by a new, 35-gate terminal building. This will incorporate a new aeronautical ramp, frontage roads, and additional connections and site improvements.

The “majority of the first half” of the project is set to open in 2019, with full completion scheduled for 2021.

The location of the new terminal will be moved closer to Grand Central Parkway, a move designed to free up nearly two miles of extra taxiway space. In turn, this should reduce the disabling bottlenecks and delays LaGuardia is currently experiencing, as well as cutting carbon emissions from idling aircraft.

The scheme will be funded by a public-private partnership (PPP), to be negotiated by PANYNJ. This will design, build, partially finance, operate and maintain the new terminal and related facilities until 2050.

It is thought that private funding will cover $2.5bn of the cost, while PANYNJ will contribute $1.1bn towards additional infrastructure improvements, as well as a new East Parking Garage, a 24MW electrical substation and enhancements to runway safety.

If all goes to plan, ten new gates are expected to open by the end 2016, while the 35-gate CTB will be fully operational in late 2021.


* This is a version of an article that first appeared on

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