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LaGuardia Gateway Partners CEO, Stewart Steeves, discusses the biggest PPP project for new transportation infrastructure in US history at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. 

What was the appeal of the new Central Terminal B project at LaGuardia Airport?
LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal B was long overdue for redevelopment and we felt this was an incredible opportunity to develop a true best-in-class terminal. Our plan for the terminal brings industry-leading advancements such as an accelerated construction schedule, first-of-their-kind dual pedestrian bridges and a passenger-oriented terminal design that will benefit passengers, airlines and other stakeholders.

What is the timescale for the development of the new Central Terminal B and how do you minimise disruption to airport operations during the construction phase?
The entire project is expected to be finished in the summer of 2022 and we’re committed to delivering it on time and on budget with minimal disruptions to the terminal’s current operations.

We will achieve that through our phased-approach that includes key milestones, such as opening the new parking garage in early 2018, followed by the first concourse – Concourse B – in the summer of the same year. In 2020, we will open the headhouse, the main part of the terminal.

To ensure the least amount of passenger disruption during construction, we intentionally developed a plan so that the existing terminal would not be closed during any portion of the redevelopment. In my mind, we are essentially building a new state-of-the-art terminal alongside and on top of an existing, fully operational one. When the new terminal building is complete, we will close the current building at night and open the new building in one phase the next morning.

How big a coup for Vantage Airport Group/LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP) was winning the project?
LaGuardia Gateway Partners was thrilled to be selected to lead this massive project. Our team brought innovative ideas that were focused on improving the passenger experience and tailored for New York. In addition, the Central Terminal B project provided Vantage with an opportunity to leverage its global experience and capabilities in the United States. Keeping the facility fully operational during all phases of construction was a true differentiator for us.

How much work has been carried out to date?
Though we received the keys to Central Terminal B less than a year ago, our first major milestone, the demolition of the P2 parking garage, was completed in December 2016. By spring 2017, we had the steel erections for Concourse B and the headhouse both underway. But we are not just standing by while we wait for the new terminal to come online. In fact, we are investing $5 million on carrying out much needed maintenance and improvements to the existing terminal. The work includes roof repairs, improving lighting and adding new furniture at the food court, all of which will enhance the passenger experience.

How and why has LGP put the passenger experience at the heart of the terminal’s design and planning and what does this mean in reality for the passenger?
We are building a best-in-class terminal that puts the passenger at the core of everything that we do, from an accelerated construction timeline to a modern terminal design that underscores efficiency, comfort and choice. Relaxed passengers are happy passengers that enjoy the amenities and spend more time and money at the airport.

Our concept and design inside the new terminal showcases our customer-centric approach. For example, we are adding more check-in stations and security checkpoints to allow for a streamlined passenger experience from kerb to gate. We are investing in new food, retail and beverage options that reflect regional and national tastes. Additionally, there will be airy and comfortable waiting areas with charging stations and children’s play areas flooded with natural light.

While we build the new terminal, I’ve mentioned some immediate improvements to overall structure above, but we’re also looking to keep our passengers engaged. We’ve brought in the LaGuardia B Fun Squad – a group of improv artists – to entertain passengers during peak travel times.

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Will the new terminal embrace self-service technology and other state-of-the-art IT systems?
We are including the latest technology in our redevelopment of Central Terminal B with a focus on our mobile-minded and busy customers.

For example, we have been testing beacon technology for the new terminal, which will provide passengers with information such as wait times for security and taxi queues.

What is LGP’s plan to develop the terminal and increase traffic at LaGuardia when Terminal B opens in 2022?
As it relates to more flights, the airport is slot controlled so we will not be able to bring in more flights to the terminal once it’s online. But as the new terminal – including the gates – will be common use, our airline partners will have a lot more flexibility to utilise larger and more efficient aircraft types.

What are you personally looking forward to with the new terminal?
I am very excited for the terminal’s dual pedestrian bridges, which span the aircraft taxi lanes. The bridges will connect the headhouse to the concourses and be elevated so that airplanes can move underneath them – providing increased flow for aircraft. And meanwhile, passengers will be able to view the aircraft moving underneath the bridges as well as see the iconic NYC skyline.

With ACI-NA revealing that over $100 billion needs to be spent on US airport infrastructure over the next five years, do you believe that the LaGuardia project could prove the catalyst for more PPP deals?

Yes, I whole-heartedly believe that Central Terminal B could be a great case study of what public-private partnerships (P3s) can do for infrastructure projects around the US. Despite their success in Asia, Canada and Europe, P3s are not as common as they could be in the United States. As one of the largest P3s in the country, we hope the successful completion of Central Terminal B will prove their value.

Can the US fund the $100 billion bill without some form of private investment?
The ACI-NA report certainly highlights the need for investment in airports. Airports are busier today and there are more people flying than ever before. P3s can be a smart solution as the US looks to modernise its airports efficiently to keep up with the pace of today’s reality.

Can you tell our readers more about LGP and why you are the right company to spearhead this transformational project for the airport?
LGP is a company comprised of leading organisations in the industry, including Vantage Airport Group, Skanska and Meridiam. Vantage has more than 20 years of experience developing and operating airports, and collectively the LGP partners have worked on more than 350 aviation and transportation projects globally. As each partner has a unique expertise, we draw on their experience to provide the best solutions to our customers – both airlines and passengers.

What’s next for Vantage Airport Group as a global airport investor?
Vantage Airport Group is always looking at new and exciting opportunities both here in the US and around the world to leverage its experience and capability.