Focus: Breaking Travel News investigates: American breaks ground on $1.6b Los Angeles modernisation project

Focus: Breaking Travel News investigates: American breaks ground on $1.6b Los Angeles modernisation project

American Airlines and Los Angeles World Airports have officially broke ground on a $1.6 billion modernisation project to fully reimagine Los Angeles International Airport Terminals 4 and 5.

The project marks American’s largest individual investment at an airport in its 92-year history and reaffirms the airline’s commitment to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles councilmember Joe Buscaino and LAWA commissioner Sean Burton and chief executive Deborah Flint joined American Airlines chairman Doug Parker, senior vice president of Los Angeles, Suzanne Boda, and frontline team members for a ceremony to unveil the project and begin construction in Terminal 5.

“Los Angeles stands at a global crossroads – a place where the world comes to meet, innovate and create,” Garcetti said.

“American’s commitment to the reinvention of Terminals 4 and 5 will create good, middle-class jobs and better connect Los Angeles to the world.”

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In June 2017, American signed a letter of intent with LAWA, which set the framework for the carrier’s record investment.

Now, less than 18 months later, construction is officially underway.

“Our mission to create a world-class airport can only be realised in collaboration with our airline partners like American Airlines, and we are grateful for the substantial commitment they have made to improving our guests’ experience at LAX,” Burton said.

“We have set high expectations for LAX, and the project we are kicking off today will raise the bar for both American and this airport.”

The project will fully modernise and update the infrastructure of LAX’s two busiest domestic terminals.

When completed, the new facility will create a world-class customer experience from end to end, with open and efficient check-in and security processing areas; more inviting gate areas with increased seating and access to modern amenities; and greater ability for airline operations to quickly adapt to and incorporate rapidly evolving new technologies.

“Today marks an important milestone in the journey to creating an airport experience second to none,” said Flint.

“The improvements included in the lease agreement between Los Angeles World Airports and American Airlines are ones that go to the heart of the guest experience.

“Working together with our airline partners as we reimagine our airport, we will transform LAX into the gold-standard airport that this city deserves.”

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Renderings released at the event show the unified departure hall, which will combine the entranceway of Terminals 4 and 5.

Together with the secure-side bridge connecting Terminal 4 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which was completed by American and LAWA in 2016, movement between terminals for connecting passengers will become significantly easier and more convenient.

“American has proudly served Los Angeles for more than 70 years,” Parker said.

“From the very beginning, when LAX first became a commercial airport in 1946, we’ve played a major role in keeping Southern California connected to the world.

“This remains one of the most important and fastest-growing markets for American, and today is a tremendous step forward as we continue to grow and strengthen our presence in the City of Angels.”

The project will also reimagine the workspace of American’s 7,300-plus team members at LAX.

Collaborative and open spaces will be designed to meet modern needs, with renovated break rooms; multi-use small and large meeting rooms; and team gathering spaces incorporated throughout the terminals.

“Our $1.6 billion investment will not only transform the customer experience at LAX, it will also give our team members a better place to work every day,” Boda added.

“It’s an exciting time for American Airlines.

“We’re investing back into our business and the communities we serve.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing here in Los Angeles, and thanks to our strong partnership with LAWA, the airport experience at LAX will soon set an example for the world.”

Construction is now underway to reconfigure the Terminal 5 ticket lobby, allowing for the buildout of the Landside Access Modernisation Project Core, a new facility being built in between Terminals 4 and 5 that will provide vertical circulation (elevators, escalators and stairs) for passengers arriving from the new train system.

From there, the project will continue in a carefully planned, phased approach that will move from curbside to gate areas.

In total, the project is expected to generate more than 6,000 jobs.

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American was one of LAX’s first commercial carriers and the airline continues to grow and strengthen its presence of 70-plus years at the hub through significant direct and indirect investments in the region.

Last May, Boda was named senior vice president of Los Angeles for American, a newly created position charged with developing and achieving the airline’s strategic goals in Los Angeles and throughout southern California.

Since 2013, the carrier has increased its employee presence in Los Angeles by nearly 60 per cent, including the hiring of nearly 200 Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking flight attendants and customer service agents.

Today, American is the largest airline employer at LAX with more than 7,300 team members based at the hub, producing a $13.4 billion total economic output (direct, indirect and induced combined) in the greater Los Angeles area.

American is the largest carrier at LAX with more than 200 daily flights on peak days to 70 destinations and is the only airline with nonstop service to five continents.