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New boarding gates open at LAX's international terminal

Marking further progress in the modernization of LAX, city officials on Wednesday heralded the opening of three boarding gates at the new Tom Bradley International Terminal, two of which are designed to handle the largest commercial jetliners.

On the north end of the terminal, the gates are the first of 18 that will be built at the Bradley, where a complete renovation is underway that includes new concourses and a grand central hall with upscale shopping and dining.

“Today, we take another important step in creating the LAX of the 21st Century,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said during a news conference at the terminal.  “This summer, nine gates will be open and we will go from having the worst international terminal in the U.S. to having the best international terminal in the U.S.”

The nine gates on the Bradley’s west side and the grand central hall were supposed to be finished in December 2012, but officials say construction complications as well as additions to the modernization project delayed their openings until this summer.

The concourse that houses the new gates has a clean modern look and soaring curved ceilings. The color scheme is white with accents of silver and natural wood. Towering glass walls and banks of glass in the roof provide ample natural lighting as well as panoramic views of the city and the mountains.

“We like it. It’s sort of between a ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘The Jetsons,’ ” said Tosh Berman of Los Angeles who was waiting for his flight to Tokyo with his wife,  Atsuko. “It’s very design-oriented and well thought out.”

Two of the new boarding gates are equipped with three state-of-the-art ramps or jetways built to accommodate the giant Airbus A380. With a maximum capacity of 800 passengers, it is now the largest jetliner in service.

The seats in the waiting areas have electrical outlets and ports for charging cellphones, laptop commuters, tablets and other electronic devices. Like other terminals at the airport, free Wi-Fi service is available.

Officials for Singapore Airlines, which uses one of the new gates for its A380 service, said the modern facilities make it easier for travelers to exit and board aircraft, improving the passenger experience and airline operations.

“LAX is leading the way into the future,” said C.W. Foo, a  regional vice president for Singapore Airlines. “We are proud to be part of the journey.”

The new gates are part of a $4-billion modernization program that will add 1 million square feet to the Bradley, rebuild the airport’s central utility plant, overhaul concessions and improve taxiways.  Officials said all the work should be completed in 2014.

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-- Dan Weikel

 
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