NY LaGuardia Airport Should Be Torn Down

April 28, 2010

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New York City's LaGuardia Airport, one of the nation's busiest with about 26 million passengers a year, is so outdated that it should be completely demolished and rebuilt, a Port Authority official said on Wednesday.

The airport, located in the borough of Queens, is managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, but its current capital plan only has enough money for modest upgrades which fall short of the full modernisation that is needed, according to Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward.

The airport offers passengers a "chaotic" experience, he said, partly because the security required in a post-September 11, 2001, world has had to be added to buildings that were erected over several decades. One such building, the landmarked Marine Air Terminal, was used for international travel by seaplanes in the 1940s.

"LaGuardia should not be the gateway for fliers into New York City; it should fundamentally be torn down and rebuilt again," Ward said at a Crain's business breakfast.

Asked if the agency would consider a privatisation of the airport, Ward told reporters: "At this point, it would be foolish to rule out any funding option."

The Port Authority already has turned to Delta Air Lines and US Airways to help build terminals at LaGuardia. Other airlines did the same at John F Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty Airport.

The Port Authority should not be constrained by nationwide limits on so-called passenger facility charges, Ward said. Those fees are now set at USD$4.50 per passenger, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's website.

(Reuters)