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Long Beach Airport Garage and Terminal Plans Move Forward

Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez has been saying all the right things lately regarding the pending terminal and garage improvements, but talk is cheap. Now comes the hard part. Last week, at the Airport Advisory Commission meeting, Mario detailed plans for the parking garage and clarified his vision for the terminal improvements. Things are looking good.

Let's start with the garage. Right now, the airport leases about 2,100 spaces from Boeing in remote Lot D. Boeing is working on selling their land over there, and once that happens, the airport won't be able to use that lot. The original plan was to build a 3,200 space garage on top of a surface lot in the central terminal area, but Mario has decided to cut that into two phases. The first phase will be a 1,900 space garage, and ground should be broken by the end of this year. Once that's done, they will be able to get rid of Lot D entirely.

The airport is currently paying more for Lot D than it's making in parking revenue. By their calculations, the debt service on this new garage will be $4.2m annually but it will generate $4.9m in revenue. So they'll actually turn this into a money maker. When passenger traffic grows, they'll build the second phase of the terminal, but that's likely many years out.

Next up was the terminal discussion. There are four areas that need to be improved first:

  • The holdrooms/trailers need to be replaced
  • Restroom facilities need to be improved
  • More and better retail/concessions need to be built
  • A single security checkpoint needs to be created instead of the current split
These will all be addressed in the first round, but they probably won't break ground until the end of next year. That still seems like a ways away to me. The goal here is to have the PFCs be able to pay for the projected $35m terminal improvements. This would help them to keep the costs per enplanement low, and that's what airlines like to see.

These plans finally put the airport terminal improvements on track toward completion. The airlines, especially JetBlue, will be thrilled to have a serviceable facility to serve their customers. And with virtually no projected increase in costs per enplanement, this is a win-win-win for the airlines, the airport, and travelers.

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