The needed new Midfield Satellite Concourse at Los Angeles International Airport officially opened last week. Renamed the West Gates at Tom Bradley, the airport’s main international terminal, the up to 15-gate satellite will support operations of 15 domestic and international carriers. Domestic users include Allegiant Air, Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines; and international users include Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, El Al, Etihad Airways and KLM, though not every foreign carrier has yet to resume flights to LAX.
The $1.73 billion West Gates is among the first pieces of a larger $14.3 billion modernization of LAX. Other works include a new automated train to ferry travelers between the terminal complex and a new ground transportation center, including a connection to Los Angeles’ growing rail transit system; Delta Air Lines‘ new Terminals 2 and 3 complex; American Airlines‘ new Terminals 4 and 5 complex; and upgrades to Terminal 6 by Alaska Airlines. The airport is also evaluating a future eastern expansion of Terminal 1, and a new Terminal 9 east of Sepulveda Boulevard.
The modernization program is long overdue. LAX grew dramatically during the 2010s with passenger numbers jumping more than 27 million to 86.1 million people from 2010 through 2019, U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics data show. The airport had notoriously little extra gate space that limited the growth of individual carriers. Prior to the current upgrades, most of the airport’s terminal complex dated to the 1960s with the last major expansion undertaken for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Not everyone is happy with the multi-billion dollar capital program. The expansion has driven a significant increase in the cost-per enplanement for airlines. Fitch Ratings has forecast that CPE could peak at a steep $33 per passenger. Citing costs, Frontier Airlines will leave LAX in favor of nearby — and cheaper — Burbank, Ontario and Orange County airports in September.
Completion of the new West Gates will allow other aspects of the LAX modernization plan to move forward. For example, much of Terminal 5 will be razed and rebuilt as part of American’s works.
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is preparing to open the second phase of its North Satellite expansion. The final eight gates will open by the end of June, at least a month earlier than originally planned. Hometown Alaska will exclusively use 16 gates, with the remaining four shared with partner American. The expanded satellite is part of a larger expansion of Sea-Tac that includes a new international arrivals facility due to open later this summer. The airport boomed in the 2010s with Delta‘s decision to build a hub and Alaska’s expansion in response to the new competition.