The Breakdown

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Southwest wants to do more upgrading at LAX

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84914 full

Southwest Airlines has already begun work on a major renovation of Terminal 1 at LAX. Now the carrier wants to do more, and that will add to the costs. 

If you’ve flown out of Terminal 1 at LAX, you’ve probably waited in the security checkpoint line that often spills out to its curb. So you know it needs an upgrade.  Southwest reached a deal with Los Angeles World Airports last year to renovate the terminal for around $384 million dollars.  

The original list of upgrades includes improving the passenger security screening checkpoint, a new baggage sorting system, upgrading holdrooms and other building infrastructure, refurbishing the arrival/baggage claim area, replacing passenger boarding bridges, and replacing aircraft paving sections and associated fuel hydrant pit locations to accommodate larger planes.

 Here's what Southwest wants to add, as the L.A. Airspace blog originally reported:

  • Concourse Improvements - Increase the square feet in the northern portion of the concourse by approximately 25 feet on each side to provide for larger holdrooms, larger restrooms, and open and inviting retail, food and beverage concessions integrated into the holdroom experience.
  • Security Screening Check Point Building Improvements - Increase the square feet of the ticketing building to provide post-security screening check point recompose area and allow state-of-the-art, industry standard Transportation Security Administration (TSA) passenger screening lanes to be constructed within the footprint of the existing facility.
  • Roof Replacement - The proposed renovation work will require extensive roof penetrations. Since the existing roof is nearing its useful life it is in the best interest of LAWA and Southwest to replace the roof as part of the renovation.
  • Fire Water Loop Replacement - The airside fire loop will be upgraded as part of the aircraft parking ramp replacement in order to avoid operational disruptions and additional cost of performing this work independently.
  • Seismic Improvement Program - Structural voluntary seismic upgrades will be included in the renovations.
  • Canopy Replacement & Exterior Facade Enhancement - The existing curbside canopy is being replaced with a new structure designed to emulate the canopy recently constructed at the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The new structure will be cantilevered from the existing terminal building, removing all columns and providing pedestrians with full use of the sidewalk. 

If that seems like a lot, it is... and it will move the projected budget up to $509 million dollars.  

"From the design effort that we’ve been in, we’ve just have understood the building more and some of the primary things that caused this were seismic upgrades.," Southwest Vice President Bob Montgomery told the Los Angeles Board of Airport commissioners on Monday.

Since that represents a seismic shift in the budget and timeline, and the airport will eventually pay for it, some Airport commissioners wanted to know if that kind of increase in scope is normal.  Gina-Marie Lindsey, Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs LAX said it’s not unique to LAX.

"I think it's the nature of going into a very, very old house and trying to make the value judgement in what you think initially," Lindsey told the commissioners.  "But then you get into the bones and start doing the design and you say ‘well, here are opportunities. Should we seize those opportunities or should we not?'"

Lindsey said she expects United Airlines will also want to do more as it renovates Terminals 6, 7, and 8.  The Airport Commissioners approved Southwest’s new plans unanimously.  The renovations will happen in stages, with some parts done as soon as early next year, and other projects finishing in early 2018. 

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