LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa welcomed the return of Airbus' A380, the world's largest airliner, to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and proclaimed that the airport's terminal facilities will be ready for the next generation of aircraft, thanks to a billion-dollar modernization initiative. The mayor also said that critically needed improvements will continue as LAX competes for international flights of new large aircraft in the coming years.
"Los Angeles is the obvious destination for the first U.S. flights of new large aircraft so it is critical that LAX has the infrastructure necessary to receive them," Villaraigosa says. "We are investing the resources necessary to be ready for next generation aircraft and to preserve LAX's status as a premier international gateway."
LAX is expected to be the first U.S. destination of an A380 passenger flight next year, a service which will be provided by Qantas Airways.
LAX is a dominant gateway for travel to every region in the world and the leading gateway for travel to the Asia/Pacific region, the fastest growing aviation market worldwide. Asia/Pacific carriers account for 40 percent of A380 orders. By 2012, LAX is expected to have 12 daily A380 flights, the most of any airport in North America.
Villaraigosa said just one daily roundtrip, transoceanic flight of an Airbus A380 from LAX, with more than 500 passengers aboard, would have been worth $723 million in economic output, 3,900 jobs and $188 million in wages in 2006, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
In a plane-side briefing on airport readiness prior to a demonstration flight of the A380 (MSN 007), which arrived at LAX Wednesday and will depart Friday morning following visitor tours and airport tests, Mayor Villaraigosa, other city officials and executives of Airbus Americas and Qantas Airways received a status report from Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the city agency that owns and operates LAX and three other Los Angeles-area airports.
Lindsey highlighted recently completed and ongoing airfield and terminal improvements that will help to preserve LAX's international gateway status, improve passenger experiences, reduce congestion at existing terminals, and position LAX to effectively compete for new large aircraft flights.
Since the beginning of the Villaraigosa administration, more than $1 billion has been invested in airport modernization projects. The first of these projects was a $723.5 million renovation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal with major interior upgrades, installation of an in-line checked baggage security system and a second boarding gate for new large aircraft. Another project was the $333 million relocation of runway 25-Left and the construction of a center taxiway on the south side of the airport to reduce the risk of runway incursions, cut aircraft idle times and reduce emissions. The third project involves upcoming construction of a new midfield concourse designed to relieve congestion at existing LAX terminals.
Villaraigosa also noted that the A380 and other next generation aircraft utilize new technologies that will benefit airport neighbors by releasing fewer emissions and reducing noise by 50 percent compared to current large aircraft.
The about-face came after the city's airport agency and Qantas Airways sent strongly worded letters to Airbus executives.
The stark contrast between San Francisco Int'l Airport and LAX has led to speculation that San Francisco will woo A380 flights away from LAX.
The airport expedited a $9-million upgrade for the first U.S. flight, but JFK now gets that first stop.
... the thing that stands out most is the quiet. The â€˜humâ€™ that is almost a trademark of the engines on other Airbus airliners isnâ€™t heard. Rather, on the rollout down the LAX...