LOS ANGELES - Elevating the focus-city status of Los Angeles International Airport to a new high within its global route network, American Airlines today officially dedicated its wide-ranging, $300 million improvement project at LAX’s Terminal 4.
Almost four years in the making and the largest project of its type ever undertaken by a single carrier at LAX, the program has given a whole new look to Terminal 4, greatly expanding the main check-in lobby, security checkpoints and baggage claim areas. The project also includes a new Customs and Immigration facility that can handle up to 1,200 passengers an hour, with a moving walkway linked to the Bradley International Terminal.
On the aircraft side of its LAX operations, American has built atop Terminal 4 a new 2,107-square-foot ramp control tower outfitted with the latest in computer and aviation technology to move its flights more efficiently in and out of the terminal during departure and arrival.
Over the past three years, American and regional airline, American Eagle, have expanded significantly at LAX, now operating nearly 180 flights a day to 37 cities. With about 5,000 employees and a payroll of $240 million a year at LAX, American and American Eagle last year boarded more than four million passengers at the airport.
In its latest LAX expansion, American will begin daily nonstop Boeing 777 service between Los Angeles and Tokyo, Japan, in April 2003.
“Since the earliest days of commercial aviation, Los Angeles has been a critical part of the American Airlines system,” said Mike Gunn, the airline’s executive vice president of Marketing and Planning. “The completion of the Terminal 4 project underscores American’s commitment to the Los Angeles gateway and creates a facility that is going to make using LAX easier and more convenient for millions of domestic and international travelers.
“Despite the current economic situation, we are managing American Airlines for the long term and are building for the future,” Gunn said, “and there is no better example of this than the improvements and added facilities we are opening in Terminal 4.”
Dan Garton, American’s executive vice president of Customer Services, said the entire Terminal 4 project was built around the notion of a more pleasant, relaxed and efficient experience for passengers moving through the LAX gateway.
“Everything we have done in designing and building this facility has been focused on customer ease and convenience,” Garton said. “From check-in, to departure, to arrival and baggage claim, we have created the facilities and the technology we need to move customers through the terminal more easily and efficiently than ever before. This truly is a facility built for the 21st Century.”
Begun in October 1998, the $300 million project has given Terminal 4 a completely new, more modern look, with vaulted ceilings extending the full length of the building.
In the main ticket counter area, American has almost doubled the number of check-in positions, to 106 from 54, and has installed electronic identification signage above each counter position to assist customers in locating the correct ticketing line. The airline also has begun installing OneStop Self-Service check-in devices for those with electronic tickets.
To handle outbound baggage more quickly, American has installed a new high-speed system with automated laser bag-tag readers that has increased the capacity to 120 bags per minute from the previous 36 bags per minute.
In the baggage claim area, American has installed four new baggage claim devices - doubling the bag-claim capacity - and has also created spacious areas around the devices for baggage identification and claim activities.
The security checkpoint area has been given a brighter, more open design, with three additional security positions that increase the total positions to seven. The area features artwork portraying man’s history of flight that was created by noted local artist, Susan Narduli, to meet the requirements of the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission.
The new look also extends to the Terminal 4 gate concourse, which features new wall finishes, terrazzo flooring and ceiling panels with soft, backlit lighting. There is a spacious food and gift court, a 50 percent increase in restrooms, and twice as much lounge seating in a new cluster-seating arrangement.
For its expanding international operations, American has built the new Customs and Immigration facility, featuring two arrival gates capable of accommodating the industry’s largest aircraft, the Boeing 747 and Boeing 777.
The facility includes 20 desks for passport control, two baggage claim devices, and six secondary inspection positions for Customs and Immigration. The design incorporates all of the federal government’s most stringent security requirements. The moving walkway, linking the facility to the Bradley Terminal, means that passengers arriving there on American or oneworld alliance partners like Qantas can gain easy access to the Terminal 4 Customs and Immigration facility.
American’s new ramp control tower atop Terminal 4 has a total of 16 work positions, each outfitted with three flat-screen monitors for coordinating the movement of outbound and inbound flights for both American and American Eagle.
The final piece of the Terminal 4 project is a new 25,000-square-foot Admirals Club and First Class Lounge slated to open in December 2003. It will feature a distinctive glass design with sweeping views of the aircraft ramp. It will have 11 private showers, three conference rooms and lounge seating for up to 440 members.
Having designated Los Angeles a focus city, American and American Eagle have expanded steadily over the past three years, increasing their combined LAX operations from 145 flights a day to 23 cities in August 1999 to 179 flights a day to 37 cities today.
In the last two years, American has introduced new nonstop service at LAX to Kona and Lihue in Hawaii, Colorado Springs, Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Reno, San Francisco, San Jose, St. Louis,Toronto and Los Cabos in Mexico. It will add Tokyo next April.
American Eagle has added new service from LAX to Albuquerque, Oakland, Phoenix and Orange County (John Wayne Airport).