Virgin America plans minor renovation of LAX Terminal 3

Virgin America and Los Angeles World Airports are planning a small-scale renovation of the carrier’s Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport, records show.

Virgin plans to grow from six gates to eight, according to a report shared recently with the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. Virgin’s new lease will be for $30,255,000 and cover a five-year period. The airline will receive 42,913 square feet of space.

Virgin will make about $20 million of improvements to the space, and the landlord, Los Angeles World Airports, will eventually pay the airline back for most of the cost. This is standard practice at LAX.

I wouldn’t call this a major overhaul. Here are the plans, taken directly from the airport board report.

Virgin Renovations – include branded improvements, unique to Virgin’s operational needs, such that it is not reasonable to assume that another airline could use the improvement without modification. The Virgin Renovations are estimated to cost $610,000 and will be solely Virgin’s responsibility.

Non-Proprietary Airline Renovations – include non-proprietary improvements to Terminal 3 that are usable by any airline operating in Terminal 3 and located in parts of Terminal 3 classified as “airline areas”, including a proportionate share of building improvements allocated to “airline areas” of the terminal. The Terminal 3 Airline Renovations are estimated to cost $13,752,000 which LAWA will purchase upon completion of renovation components.

Terminal Renovations – include improvements that are allocated to the “public areas” of Terminal 3 that are being implemented during the course of the overall project including a proportionate share of building improvements allocated to “public areas” of the terminal. Terminal 3 Renovations are estimated to cost $4,973,033. The Terminal Renovations will be acquired by rent credits to Virgin over the term of the Lease, including annualized accrued interest on the outstanding principal for the value of such improvements at a total cost not to exceed $5,386,000.

This pretty minor stuff in comparison to United, which is receiving $400 million in upgrades, and Southwest, which is getting a $500 million plus overhaul.

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Do you know the TSA officer who tells jokes at LAX?

Carl Revis used to be an emcee at weddings. Now he is a Transportation Security Administration screener at Los Angeles International Airport, usually based at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

He has a 10-15 minute routine, which he delivers once an hour on a microphone at screening. Have you seen him?

Our staff photographer Brad Graverson put together this nifty video of Revis.

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Man who brought grenade to LAX is free on bail

The Stanford University professor who brought a World War II-era grenade through security at LAX was released this morning on $500,000 bail after spending the night in jail, records show. He is being charged with a felony, according to records.

On Tuesday afternoon, a portion of the airport was evacuated and the bomb squad was called out.

From my story last night:

Gary Walter Cox, 58, told authorities the grenade had belonged to his father, who had recently died, the sources said. He thought it was inert but a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said police determined that it might actually have been live.

The grenade was spotted by Transportation Security Administration workers during routine screening, a federal law enforcement official said.

The Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad was called out to the airport, and Terminal 1 was evacuated at about 3:45 p.m. Police transported the item and later blew it up, the three sources said. The terminal was reopened about 4:20 p.m.

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American Airlines will sublease four LAX gates from United

American is building up at #LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.

American is building up at LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.

American Airlines will lease four gates and related counter and office space from United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport starting in the third quarter of 2014, officials confirmed Tuesday.

American is picking up four gates at Terminal 6. The gates were formerly used by Continental Airlines, before it merged with United. The new combined United Airlines has been using them for several years.

When American picks up the gates, it will operate about 180 daily departures to 55 destinations from 28 gates, airline spokesman Andrew Christie told me. (Ned Russell of Flight Global points out that 10 of these gates are used by American Eagle, so American will have only 18 mainline gates under the new arrangement — still not a lot in relative terms.)

Christie wasn’t sure, but I believe the gates being transferred are 60-63. There is a United Club nearby, but Christie said American may not take it over.

“Working in a capacity constrained airport can be challenging,” Christie said. “With the agreement with United for the additional space we will be able to improve our customer service there and provide the customers with a better travel experience.”

This is not a perfect situation. American will now have gates that are literally all over the airport, and there will be no great way for passengers to transfer among them.

Here’s what American will have soon:

  • American is the exclusive carrier in Terminal 4. That will remain its base.
  • American operates American Eagle flights from a commuter terminal. The terminal is  accessible by bus from the main American terminal. This will not change.
  • US Airways, an American Airlines Group company, operates from Gates 30, 31A, 31B in Terminal 3. Passengers connecting to other American Airlines flights will have to continue to take a bus from these gates to their connecting flights. Christie said eventually American may stop using these gates.
  • American will have four gates in Terminal 6, subleased from United. There is a tunnel inside security– it has long been closed but should reopen — that connects Terminal 4 to Terminal 6. It is a long walk, however. Passengers must walk through Delta’s terminal.
  • American will eventually operate many of its international flights from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The international terminal will be connected to Terminal 4 via a walkway now under construction.
  • At busy times, some American flights use what are called “remote” gates on the western edge of the airport. Travelers then must take a bus to Terminal 4. These gates may continue to be used.

I expect United to slightly trim its schedule to make up for the loss of four gates. United confirmed to me that Portland and San Jose will be cut Sept. 20. Both are operated by Skywest Airlines as United Express. “The flights weren’t meeting our expectations,” United spokeswoman Mary Clark said.

The internet says United is also axing its L.A. to Kelowna (British Columbia) flight, also operated by Skywest.

United will retrench in its Terminals 7 and 8. Los Angeles World Airports is planning a $400 million renovation of United’s operation at LAX.  

Meanwhile, in what American’s Christie deemed a “separate transaction,” US Airways is returning to United two gates that it had leased in Terminal 2 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

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L.A. Airspace is on holiday

Lufthansa Vest

Hi everyone:

I’ll be away from the blog for a few days, as I travel to Lima, Peru to attend the wedding of a childhood friend. (Please Tweet at me if you have ideas for what I should do while I’m there.)

When I return on Tuesday, May 27, I may post less than usual. As my Twitter followers know, I have taken a new job covering airlines in the Americas for Aviation Week magazine. I’ll be starting on June 9.

I’ll remain at the Los Angeles News Group through June 3. I have loved this job — my first covering aviation — and I am grateful to all of you for reading and for offering comments. We have had a great back-and-forth here, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Many of you have taught me a lot about how this industry works.

I’m also grateful to my editors, especially Toni Sciacqua, Frank Suraci, Michael Anastasi and Carolina Garcia, for giving me the freedom to pursue my passion. They didn’t always understand my zest for airlines and airports, but they have always been supportive.

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