All the local businesses in the new Long Beach Airport garden courts and passenger concourse have teamed with major airport retailing firm The Paradies Shops, which has provided financing support to help them build and establish their operations at the modernized LGB.
The new concourse incorporates a rooftop solar-panel array and a variety of other energy-efficient and environmentally friendly design features. Green procedures were used in its construction, including on-site re-use of the building materials and concrete demolished. (This practice ensured that carbon and diesel-particulate emissions from contractors’ trucks were greatly reduced during construction, since very little material was carted away for disposal.)
According to LGB, the solar-energy panels on top of the new concourse should offset 13 per cent of its power demand. Other energy-efficient features range from an energy management system to low-flow toilets and water faucets. LGB is applying to the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED Gold certification for the new concourse.
None of the aircraft gates in the new 10-gate concourse features a jet bridge. Rodriguez says the concourse was designed this way for three reasons. One is that “passengers like walking up to the aircraft: they get a sense of connection and of place”.
The second reason was to keep costs and user fees down. Although the 10-gate concourse cost $45 million – there are also two spare aircraft parking positions which can serve as remote gates – Rodriguez reckons LGB saved $45 million by designing the concourse without jet bridges.
Each jet bridge would have cost nearly $1 million and the concourse itself would have had to have a second story to accommodate them. Instead it is a single-story structure.
Of course, Long Beach Airport is in sunny Southern California, where passengers rarely need to shelter from intense cold or pouring rain as they board or disembark from their aircraft. This may have made the decision a relatively easy one for LGB.
A third reason for the decision to do without jet bridges is that, since all the gates are basically identical, they can be configured and used flexibly.
So while Rodriguez happily concedes that “we’re a 150-seat airport” in terms of the size of the aircraft which serve its markets, he says LGB could in fact handle an aircraft as large as the Airbus A380, as long as the airport devoted enough arrival and boarding gates to handling its passengers.
This flexibility will allow LGB’s new passenger concourse “to stand the test of time”, Rodriguez believes. Even more important, the gates’ low construction cost – $2.2 million per gate compared with an average of $30 million per gate for airports throughout California, according to Rodriguez – means LGB can keep its charges to its airline customers low.
In turn, airlines can then pass on their low operating costs at LGB to their passengers, in the form of lower fares, Rodriguez says. This actually appears to be happening.
Long Beach Airport competes for the Greater Los Angeles area’s 18.1 million-person market catchment area with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and John Wayne Orange County Airport, which respectively lie approximately 20 miles to the north and 20 miles to the south of LGB.
Both airports are much busier than LGB, which is constrained at present by local “noise budget” regulations to 42 large-aircraft commercial flights a day and 25 regional-airline flights with aircraft weighing less than 75,000lb.
All these airline slots are now taken up. However, Long Beach Airport ranked second-lowest among all air carrier airports in the continental U.S. (and lowest among all California airports) in terms of average round-trip airfare for the second half of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.