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Long Beach Airport opens its new $45-million concourse

December 12, 2012 |  2:05 pm

Passengers travel through the new concourse at the Long Beach Airport. The terminal is part of an airport renovation that also includes a 1,989-space parking structure, a modified aircraft ramp and historic rehabilitation. Credit: Allen J. Schaben  / Los Angeles Times

The new $45-million concourse at Long Beach Airport opened its doors Wednesday morning, officially making the facility operational after a decade of planning by airport and city officials.

Scores of travelers — arriving and departing — made their way into the 36,000-square-foot eco-friendly facility, with rows of palm trees and native plants in an open courtyard.

The new terminal is also equipped with a fire pit and lounge chairs. The food area inside the northern part of the concourse offers bites from Long Beach restaurants. Nearby, an iPad station equipped with card swipers gives passengers the opportunity to order food, shop, check their email or catch up on news.

It's a big change for Long Beach travelers, who have spent the last few years waiting for flights in cramped, temporary trailers.

"We're proud of this," said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, who arrived before dawn Wednesday to participate in the grand opening. "It's the right size for the city. It probably took a little longer than it should have, but we did it right and I'd rather do it right than do it fast."

When the first flight arrived from Las Vegas, Jet Blue employees clapped and cheered as they welcomed the first passengers and flight crew into the new terminal. They handed out T-shirts that read "I heart LGB" (the airport's code) and tiny cupcakes. 

Livio Lippetti, 55, of Las Vegas said he was surprised by the greeting and the changes.

"This is sweet," Lippetti said. "They did a nice job here; I'm very impressed."

Long Beach Airport, which has been owned by the city since 1923, handles about 3 million commercial passengers a year, and is served by a handful of airlines, according to officials.

Long Beach spent $140 million to build and repair most of the structures in the small airport. At least $45 million was spent on the concourse and building that houses the TSA security checkpoints.

Renovations at the historic Long Beach Airport Terminal also led to the recent discovery of several mosaics.

It took 10 years for the construction of the concourse to be completed, mostly because of lawsuits and planning delays, but officials say the wait was worth it.

"It has a been a long time coming," Foster said. "We did this right and I can just tell by the reaction from the people using this airport in Long Beach that they couldn't be more delighted. This is going to be a very good asset for the city for decades to come."

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-- Ruben Vives

Twitter.com/latvives

Photo: Passengers travel through the new concourse at the Long Beach Airport. The terminal is part of an airport renovation that also includes a 1,989-space parking structure, a modified aircraft ramp and historic rehabilitation. Credit: Allen J. Schaben  / Los Angeles Times

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