Southwest has become the first airline to taxi under LaGuardia’s new skybridge in the newly-renovated Terminal B. The bridge opened on Thursday morning and promises to boost aircraft by taxiways 50%. Southwest flight 617 became the first to taxi from under the bridge yesterday.
New York’s LaGuardia Airport officially opened another part of its long-running expansion: a skybridge. The bridge connects passengers through Terminal B while also allowing planes to taxi underneath. While this might not seem like a major development, it can actually boost taxiway room substantially.
The plane inaugurating the bridge was Southwest flight 617 down to Tampa, Florida. The aircraft smoothly completed its taxi and was greeted with a water cannon salute at the end of the taxiway before taking off. The new terminal first opened last June.
Speaking to ABC7NY, Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, Rick Cotton said,
“The innovative design of the airport provides a 50% increase in aircraft taxiways that will dramatically decrease gate congestion and gate delays, greatly reducing a major source of frustration for passengers.”
Considering LaGuardia’s reputation for severe delays and congestion, any increase in space will be a huge boost for travelers. The airport plans to open one more skybridge by the next year, adding a crucial two miles of taxi space for aircraft in the airport.
The first skybridge is 430 feet long and 97 feet high, with a modern and striking design. Passengers will have a chance to see aircraft up-close and from a vantage point thanks to this latest addition while also speeding up connectivity within the airport.
Nothing like the smell of a new LaGuardia in the morning! Great to see the first plane pass under the ped skybridge on the expanded taxiway as part of the gleaming new Terminal B. @LGAairport @terminalBLGA pic.twitter.com/jPQulWhxcY
— Benjamin M. Branham (@benbranham) May 20, 2021
All of these developments are stunning for an airport that has been panned for being one of the worst in America, both operationally and experience-wise. Then-Vice President and now President Joe Biden once said that LaGuardia must “be in some third-world country.”
However, these developments bring the airport much closer to the international standard President Biden hopes to see (he cited Hong Kong Airport as the benchmark in the same speech, according to The Verge).
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These changes are a part of LaGuardia’s vision to become the most efficient and passenger-friendly airport in the US. To achieve this, over $4 billion in funding is available through a unique public-private partnership. This is rare for American airports, which are usually government-built.
Indeed, Terminal B looks much closer to the likes of Singapore Changi or Hong Kong International than any US airport. Notably, the expansion is not complete just yet, with more passenger space and taxiways coming up soon. The vast majority of work will be over by 2022, boosting the overall capacity.
While LaGuardia’s modernization has been pricey, it could set the benchmark for other US airports as well. With infrastructure a growing topic of interest, more airports could be seeing a facelift very soon.
What do you think about LaGuardia’s skybrige? Let us know in the comments!