Pictures: LAX prepares to link American’s Terminal 4 with international terminal

Los Angeles International Airport is finally making some progress on a new connector building between the Tom Bradley International Airport and American’s Terminal 4. It should be finished by the end of 2015.

If all goes well, this should be an important change for customers on a bunch of different airlines. For now, travelers on United, Alaska, Delta and American must either make a long walk outside security or take a shuttle bus, also outside security, to reach the airport’s main international terminal. But when this building is finished, customers on all of those airlines should be able to make seamless connections from domestic flights onto international ones. This will save a lot of time. And departing passengers will only have to go through security once.

For this to become a reality, Los Angeles International Airport will have to reopen an underground tunnel between Terminals 4 and 5. That should happen at some point, though I don’t know when. (It has been closed for years.)  Once that happens, Terminals 4 through 8 will all be connected on the South Side of LAX. The news is not so good for passengers using Terminal 1, 2, 3, who will still need to do a lot of schlepping to get to the main international terminal.

Here are some renderings of the new connector building, courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports.

TBIT connector 2

TBIT connector 1

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Lawsuit: Contractor that built new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX says it wasn’t paid for work

Walsh/Austin LAX lawsuit for new Tom Bradley International Terminal

Walsh/Austin, the construction firm that built the new $2 billion Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, says the airport has failed to pay its bills for unforeseen costs, according to a lawsuit filed last month.

This lawsuit, which I detailed in Tuesday’s newspaper, deals with only one subcontractor — an electrical firm called SASC — which billed more than $2.4 million for extra work but was never paid.

SASCO claims that the city provided “… electrical design documents that were inaccurate and replete with errors, conflicts and other defects.” It also says the city engaged in a practice of “… hindering, interfering with and disrupting the performance of Walsh/Austin and SASCO in performing electrical work on the project.”

One $2.4 million lawsuit is not a huge deal. But in an attachment to the suit, Walsh/Austin suggest there could be many more like this. It suggests the city may not have paid other bills for unexpected construction costs. From my story:

Three subcontractors have already filed lawsuits against Walsh/Austin and the city in connection with alleged changes and delays during the project, and many more lawsuits of a similar nature are expected,” reads an attachment to the SASCO suit.

Walsh/Austin says it currently has several administrative claims going against the city for non payment of bills. In the lawsuit, the company suggests it could file more litigation if those claims for extra payment are turned down.

“Walsh/Austin and SASCO have other change order requests against and claims against the city arising from performance of the project that are not included in this action,” the suit states.

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A record number of international passengers used LAX in 2013

LAX set a record for international passengers in 2013. Photo credit: Brad Graverson, staff photographer.

LAX set a record for international passengers in 2013. Photo credit: Brad Graverson, staff photographer.

Los Angeles International Airport reported record international traffic in 2013, with nearly 17.9 million international passengers using the facility. The previous high was 17.5 million set in 2005.

Overall, 66.7 passengers went through LAX in 2013, an increase of about 5 percent over the previous year. LAX, which saw a sharp downturn in traffic after 2001, is finally starting to rebound in a big way. The airport’s record traffic was set in 2000, at slightly more than 67 million.

I think there’s a great likelihood that LAX breaks that overall mark in 2014. All seems to be going well for LAX, and the airline executives I speak with say the market is strong. (Lest you think they’re spinning me, these same executives do not have such bullish predictions for Ontario and Burbank Airports.)

As for the international numbers, city and airport officials should be proud of them. They have attracted several new airlines since I’ve been covering the beat and persuaded others to use larger airplanes or add new flights. But let’s not start attributing the added traffic to the new international terminal. For one, the building only partially opened in September. And for another — and this is important — most airline and airport people tell me that fancy new buidlings actually have less of an impact on passenger numbers than you might think. Yes, passengers are happpier in nice terminals, but apparently few travelers choose an airport based on the terminal’s amenities.

Here’s some historic LAX passenger traffic data, courtesy of the airport.

1994 25,812,087 25,238,188 51,050,275
1995 27,234,353 26,674,870 53,909,223
1996 29,162,942 28,811,617 57,974,559
1997 30,313,688 29,828,900 60,142,588
1998 30,826,859 30,388,853 61,215,712
1999 32,298,944 31,980,627 64,279,571
2000 33,836,077 33,467,105 67,303,182
2001 31,007,930 30,598,274 61,606,204
2002 28,181,481 28,042,362 56,223,843
2003 27,544,606 27,438,232 54,982,838
2004 30,343,873 30,360,695 60,704,568
2005 30,649,324 30,840,074 61,489,398
2006 30,500,130 30,540,936 61,041,066
2007 31,244,261 31,194,322 62,438,583
2008 29,930,985 29,884,661 59,815,646
2009 28,288,211 28,232,632 56,520,843
2010 29,605,542 29,463,867 59,069,409
2011 30,923,005 30,939,047 61,862,052
2012 31,857,135 31,830,986 63,688,121
2013 66,667,619
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American Airlines girds for upcoming LAX construction

An American Airlines 777-300ER parked at LAX. Photo credit: American.

An American Airlines 777-300ER parked at LAX. Photo credit: American.

Due to construction and the merger with US Airways, some changes are coming to the American Airlines operation at Los Angeles International Airport.

Here’s what we learned from an American newsletter this week to LAX employees:

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