After years of painful construction, the new $3.9 billion upgrade to Delta Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport has taken flight.
Governor Andrew Cuomo personally touted it Tuesday as a state-of-the-art marvel that further moves the airport away from a desultory reputation.
The infamous Queens airport, with its shabby atmosphere, persistent delays, and unremitting construction is a place city travelers have come to hate. Back in 2014, then-Vice President Joe Biden infamously likened arriving there to coming to a “third-world nation.”
That spurred the state and Port Authority of New York New Jersey into action. Slowly but surely, construction is moving relentlessly along, with a huge part of Terminal B completed in December. The opening of the new Terminal C, including a concourse, has taken two years to complete.
Delta spent around $3.3 billion for the redesign of the 105,000-square-foot terminal while the Port Authority is spending about $600 million, according to officials. The terminal actually handles more departures and arrivals than its sister terminal at JFK – at 275 per day, according to the Port Authority.
A total of $8 billion is expected to be spent to upgrade the entire airport, with a projected completion date of 2026, which will include new parking garages and roadways into and out of the airport.
Cuomo was joined Tuesday by Delta CEO Ed Bastian and Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. A host of other local officials and residents from Sunnyside, Queens joined the dedication and ribbon cutting on the terminal.
Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard even gave his best pitch for the airport, noting that he and fellow ballplayers often fly out of LaGuardia for road trips.
Cuomo dismissed critics who previously claimed it was “impossible” to fix the problems at LaGuardia Airport.
“The New York way is to never believe anything is impossible,” Cuomo said. “At a time when we are in many ways adrift, have lost our sense of confidence, and are in a state of paralysis, what this project says is ‘yes we can do these things.’ We are building more in New York State than in any other state in the country – period.”
Most impressive at the new Terminal C is a seven-gate concourse that sits on the water on the eastern side of LaGuardia and boasts panoramic views of both Flushing Bay and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
The new concourse has many amenities including restaurants, bars, newsstands, a nursing room, and a relief room for dogs, popular with travelers’ pups that are increasingly flying with their owners. There is also wider areas of seating, outlets for power and phone charging and bright new gate areas. Windows, in some areas, look out at the runways.
Employees and officials alike gushed over the new terminal.
“It’s like Governor Cuomo said [during his opening remarks referencing Biden], it was like a third-world country that we worked in,” said Camille Belesi, a 31-year flight attendant for Delta Airlines. “It’s just beautiful, new gates – it’s just great.”
“I love it, it’s a very refreshing addition to Delta Airlines,” added Marika Liverpool, a Delta flight attendant for nine years.
Sunnyside residents were equally thrilled.
“I am very impressed because I used to come to this airport and it was like a third world nation, but now it surprised me and it is very good for New York,” said Rosa Hardin. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we will have a new beautiful airport”
“The place was terrible,” added Sarah Arico, also from Sunnyside. “It’s so beautiful now and we are right up there with the best of them.”
What’s left, according to Cotton, is to finish the main arrival and departure hall, which are slated to open 2021 on the Delta side. Terminal B, the large arrival and departure hall, will be complete by the middle of next year, and then soon after, work will begin on a second concourse scheduled to open in 2021.
The new proposed LaGuardia AirTrain, Cotton added, is undergoing an environmental review process with the FAA in the lead. He said that review should be complete by 2021 and then “we could put together a construction schedule.”
The Port Authority board recently approved a $2 billion budget to build the LaGuardia AirTrain for 2024.