LA mayor opens West Gates at LAX’S Bradley Int’l Terminal

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

A group of Filipino Americans has written a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to intervene in a recent decision of the Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) to relegate Philippine Airlines planes to the new Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) which would be inconvenient “given the number of elderly passengers that the Filipino flag carrier serves.”

          In a letter, Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) National Los Angeles coordinator Art Garcia, said LAX “may  have people movers (flat escalators) and will have terminal transfer vehicles (i.e. golf carts), but neither will be convenient given the number of elderly Filipino passengers that PAL carries.”

Garcia said the new policy would reportedly give “additional twenty minute walk by tunnel from the main concourse of Tom Bradley.”

In a recently posted online alert, PAL issued the following:

“Effective June 1, 2021, PAL will be forced, over our protest, to move our flights departing and arriving at Los Angeles to the new Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The MSC gates are in a separate concourse that is connected to the main TBIT area by an underground tunnel.   We ask for your patience and understanding and alert you on the following:  

* Additional Walk Time to and from Aircraft Gates:  Please allot at least 20 minutes additional time to walk to your departure gates at the MSC.  From the TBIT main concourse, after clearing security, passengers will need to access the tunnel walkway via escalators, elevators and moving walkways.

* Alternative transportation:  There will be terminal transfer vehicles (similar to golf carts) available for passengers who are unable to walk the full distance; accessible via elevators and escalators from the TBIT main concourse.  Please allot extra time in case of limited availability of these transfer vehicles.  Passengers using wheelchairs will also need to take the elevators.

* Limited shops and services:  Please note there are limited shops and food service facilities at the MSC; please plan on completing your shopping and dining needs at the TBIT main concourse pre-departure area, before proceeding to the MSC for boarding.

* No Change in Check-in or Arrivals location:  All departing PAL passengers will check in at the TBIT, and all arriving PAL passengers will claim baggage and clear immigrations and customs at the TBIT, in the same areas in use today.  

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that the Airport’s decision may cause you.  PAL has appealed urgently to the airport authority to reconsider the decision to move PAL flights from the TBIT to the MSC; PAL also is seeking assistance from city officials.  We have raised the important consideration that a large number of our Filipino-American and visiting Filipino travelers are senior citizens or persons with disability who would be better served if the boarding gates are located closer to the check-in and security areas.  We will continue to pursue all available remedies in the hope that our flights will be retained at the original gates of the main TBIT concourse for the well-being and convenience of our valued passengers.”

According to the same JFAV letter, “PAL has been operating out of LAX since 1984, has been flying to the US West Coast since 1946 and LAX is currently our largest single station outside of Manila.”

“In January 2020, we flew up to three daily wide body flights to Manila from LAX and back then we were ranked 4th largest among the Asian carriers and 15th among all international carriers using Tom Bradley.”

“During the pandemic, we were/are the largest Asian carrier still operating and was 8th among all international carriers in TBIT. We are the top wheelchair user in LAX, with 3,300 average per month in 2019 at $65 per wheelchair, which PAL pays for and is not passed on the passengers.”

“At peak we have carried up to 80 wheelchair passengers in a single flight. We serve the Filipino community in Southern California and other Filipinos from around the US who connect through LAX through our codeshares on American.  And yet we are the only transpacific airline being asked to move.”

          LAWA is a branch of the City of Los Angeles and governed by a seven-member Board of Airport Commissioners who are appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles and approved by the City Council.

As this developed Mayor Eric Garcetti celebrated the opening of the West Gates at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday — a $1.73 billion investment that brings 15 gates and adds 750,000 square feet just west of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

“Completing the West Gates is the latest step in our unprecedented campaign to reimagine LAX — to help our airport realize its potential as a premier, 21st century destination, as a source of jobs and economic growth for local workers, and as a site of seamless travel for millions of passengers.”

The five-level, 1,700-foot long terminal marks the latest step in the airport’s $14.5 billion modernization. Today’s opening marks the completion of a four-and-half year construction process that employed more than 8,500 individuals, over 2,500 of them from local communities.

The new concourse will serve both international and domestic flights. It is designed around a digitally-based travel experience, with state-of-the-art biometric boarding gates; thousands of places to plug in and access next-generation wireless internet, plans to include access to 5G later this year; touchscreen kiosks; two nursing rooms; an animal-service relief area; three children play areas; and the most advanced baggage handling and boarding system of any airport in the United States.

“This project sets the standard for how to build better, providing meaningful work opportunities to local workers and small businesses, keeping sustainability at the heart of the project and focusing on providing the best passenger experience possible,” said Sean Burton, President, Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC).

“I am excited to see these new, LEED Silver-certified gates at the Tom Bradley terminal,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin.

“This is the first mega-project at LAX under the leadership and vision of Mayor Garcetti, working with our City Council and our Board, to build a world-class airport – one that will redefine our airport experience,” said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

The West Gates at Tom Bradley was funded from LAX’s operating revenues, Capital Improvement Program funds, fees generated from airlines, passenger facility charges, and airport revenue bond proceeds. No taxpayer money was used for the project.

LAX is in the midst of a $14.5 billion Capital Improvement Program, the largest airport project of its kind in the nation. The overhaul touches all nine passenger terminals and builds new facilities, including an Automated People Mover train, a Consolidated Rent-A-Car facility, and the Intermodal Transportation Facility-West, a 4,300 stall parking structure.

In November 2020, Mayor Garcetti announced that the Delta Sky Way transformation project, a $1.86 billion project to modernize and upgrade Terminals 2 and 3, is 18 months ahead of schedule.