A MESSAGE FROM JUSTIN ERBACCI CEO, Los Angeles World Airports
I want to wish everyone throughout Los Angeles and across the world a very healthy and happy New Year. There's no doubt that 2020 was historic for the aviation industry. Never before have we seen such a prolonged decrease in air travel as the one we saw due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. While we have experienced some growth over the last nine months from an initial drop of 95 percent in passenger traffic at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), we continue to have a long road ahead for our recovery. When faced with adversity and unprecedented challenges over the past year, the teams at LAX and Van Nuys (VNY) general aviation airport have stepped up to keep travelers healthy and safe as our No. 1 priority. Through innovative new technology, pilot programs, physical changes and new policies, we have created the safest possible facilities to serve those with a need to travel.
I am thankful for the attentive and responsive leadership of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and our Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) executive team, who have come together in ways that have allowed us to meet these unprecedented circumstances with prudence, compassion and dedication. Our central goal is clear: to provide airports that help people travel safely. At the same time, we have continued our work to modernize LAX, improve the guest experience, make our airports safer and secure, strengthen our role as a world-class neighbor and work collaboratively with our partners to ensure gold-standards in health and comfort from curb to gate.
In 2020, even amid an unprecedented drop in travel demand and an extremely challenging financial situation, we accomplished remarkable feats. As a leader in innovation among airports, we tested new technology and processes to help people travel safely. We served as an important conduit for personal protective equipment and vaccines. We continued applying green and sustainable practices. Together with our partners, we made remarkable progress on new LAX infrastructure and deployed new technologies, reducing touchpoints throughout the airport journey. We also continued to create jobs for our local communities and connect with our neighbors in new and innovative ways.
Below, you will find many highlights of how 2020 impacted our airports, how we responded, the progress we continue to make on our modernization and much more.
I am privileged, humbled and so very excited to have the opportunity to lead this great organization in continuing its transformation in 2021. As we enter the new year, we continue our important work and look toward a bright future in which we return to the skies stronger than ever.
Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles World Airports
A Historic Year for Aviation and LAWA
Passenger traffic reached historic lows in April, with LAX facing a 95% decline in passengers versus 2019 numbers, with a slow recovery throughout 2020. While the numbers are not yet final, LAX projects a total of about 29 million passengers in 2020. That represents about 33% of 2019's record total of 88.1 million passengers.
Flight operations at LAX totaled 379,340, which is a reduction of about 45% compared to the 691,257 flights in 2019. At Van Nuys, there were an estimated 231,500 flight operations in 2020.
Cargo was a bright spot in 2020 as LAX was the No. 1 U.S. port for personal protective equipment cargo operations, a trade category that increased an astonishing 20,433% at LAX. Some airlines converted their passenger aircraft cabins to carry cargo, and LAX granted more than 100 special permits for one-time operations of cargo, charter and humanitarian flight operations. In December, FedEx Flight 900 arrived at LAX with one of the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to reach Los Angeles. LAX also was the No. 3 airport in the U.S. for total cargo (based on the latest data available), with more than $95.5 billion in total cargo operations in 2020.
Steadfast Focus On Traveler Health and Safety
Throughout 2020, LAWA provided safe, clean and increasingly touch-free experiences through cutting-edge technology, physical changes and policies that are designed to help people Travel Safely and employees Work Safely at LAX and VNY. Through the use of innovative pilot programs, LAX also delivered new technology and improvements that are creating a more comfortable, seamless and digitally based airport journey.
LAWA Launches COVID-19
Recovery Task Force
Early in the spring, CEO Justin Erbacci formed the LAWA COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. This group, led by the airport's executive team, has worked diligently toward achieving LAWA's recovery and stabilization in seven different core work streams. These include: getting passengers back to our airports; improving our fiscal position; completing construction and repairs faster; setting our organization up for success; making our airports safer; engaging and communicating with our stakeholders; and bringing employees back to work.
Rigorous Cleaning Protocols
Airport personnel deep-clean high-touch areas as often as every hour, including cleaning our public areas and restrooms using virus- and bacteria-killing disinfectants. LAX and VNY have increased deep cleaning throughout the airports, focusing on "high touch" areas like handrails, escalators, elevator buttons and restroom doors. Click here for more information.
Travel Safely Ambassadors
Face coverings are required at LAX, and we now have Travel Safely Ambassadors working in select terminals to remind guests, and provide a free face covering, if needed.
In May, LAWA launched its "Travel Safely" microsite, which is accessible from the FlyLAX.com homepage. This one-stop shop presents information on LAWA's initiatives to stay safe while traveling, as well as instructions on what to do when traveling through LAX or VNY. The microsite has become the most accessed page on the LAX website, averaging 1,000 views per day. Click here for more information.
LAX Leads the Country in Testing New Technology and Adapting to Health Guidelines
LAX has long been on the forefront of exploring and applying new technology that helps travelers have a seamless, digital experience. While that work has been ongoing for years, the 2020 pandemic shifted LAX into overdrive. From testing thermal cameras that detect elevated body temperatures, to launching a first-of-its-kind on-site rapid COVID-19 testing laboratory and launching the mobile food ordering system LAXOrderNow.com, LAX has invested heavily in new technology to help people travel safely.
Many of these new programs are aimed at creating a more touchless experience, to reduce the spread of germs. That technology includes biometrics, physical barriers, touchless document checks at the security checkpoints and the launch of LAXOrderNow.com, the airport's new contact-free mobile ordering system for food and beverages. When it comes to cleaning, LAX now uses electrostatic sprayers to deep-clean surfaces, and is testing UV-C lights to clean handrails and other surfaces. LAX has long had advanced air filtration systems in its terminals.
On-Site COVID-19 Rapid Testing Lab In December, LAX opened an innovative, on-site rapid COVID-19 testing facility to provide tests that support safe air travel, build passenger confidence and help maintain a safe working environment. The lab provides results within 3-5 hours as more destinations around the world integrate COVID-19 testing requirements for arriving passengers. Click here for more information.
Terminal Wellness Pilot Program During the summer, LAX deployed the nation's first large-scale test of thermal imaging cameras to help detect people with an elevated body temperature. This voluntary program measured the temperatures of travelers entering or arriving at the Tom Bradley International Terminal and those entering Terminal 2. Click here for more information.
LAX Order Now Expands Contactless, Mobile Food and Beverage Ordering In October, LAX expanded its online food and beverage ordering service to include all terminals at LAX, creating another way passengers can have a tailored, contactless and comfortable experience while traveling through LAX. The new service, LAXOrderNow.com, is a collaboration among Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Airports (URW Airports) and Grab.
Touchless TSA Document Checks LAX is among 50 U.S. airports in which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is using new Credential Authentication Technology that allows passengers to insert their photo ID into a reader without needing to exchange documents or show a boarding pass at security screening checkpoints.
Virtual Assistance Pilot Program The Virtual Assistance pilot program, which is now available in Terminal 2, allows airport guests to have real-time conversations with a customer service professional over a touch-free tablet system installed at the information booth between 7 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. daily. The live video feed means guests can simply walk up and begin a conversation without even touching the tablet. In 2020, this pilot assisted a total of 4,843 guests at LAX. Click here for more information.
Biometrics Speed Travel
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Simplified Arrival program is an enhanced international arrival process that uses facial biometrics to automate the manual document checks that are already required for admission into the United States. CBP also offers biometric entry via the Global Entry program. These programs provide travelers with touchless processes that further secure and streamline international arrivals. Click here for more information.
Personal Protective Equipment Vending Machines
Guests at LAX now have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer, face coverings and gloves via convenient vending machines located in the ticketing areas of most terminals. The machines accept touchless payment options, too. Click here for more information.
Major Capital Projects Transform the LAX Landscape
LAWA continues to make significant progress on its $14.3 billion capital improvement program, focused on not only modernizing its terminals, but creating new and better ways to access the airport. After breaking ground on four of these projects in 2019, 2020 saw the future of LAX move full steam ahead as heavy construction started to shape a new skyline, even in the midst of a global pandemic. From the Midfield Satellite Concourse to a new Airport Police Facility and the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), LAWA is focused on continuing its mission of
Gold Standard Airports...Delivered.
Midfield Satellite Concourse
Construction on the 15-gate concourse connected to Tom Bradley International Terminal via an underground pedestrian tunnel made significant gains as the project officially went from construction site to scaled-down trials in preparation for opening in 2021. The state-of-the-art facility also features a Baggage Optimization Project, which will greatly improve the movement of baggage on the west side of the airport. Click here for more information.
Intermodal Transportation Facility-West LAX's new 4,300 stall parking structure, officially topped out in October as the last of 72,000 cubic yards of concrete was poured. Finishing work over the last few months of 2020 included interior and exterior painting, as well as elevator, escalator and exterior facade installations. Opening this summer, it will be the first major component of LAX's LAMP program completed. Click here for more information.
Automated People Mover
Over the past year, hundreds of underground foundation piles for the 2.25-mile elevated train tracks were nearly completed, while the guideway and stations came to life with falsework and concrete pours. The assembly of train cars began in Pittsburgh, while construction of the Maintenance and Storage Facility, which will house the trains and the train operating system, continued to progress as it prepares to welcome the first train car in the first part of the new year. Click here for more information.
Airport Police Facility
The new 160,000-square-foot facility will consolidate police operations into one location on the north side of Westchester Parkway. The project officially topped out in August as it moves toward completion in 2021. Click here for more information.
Consolidated Rent-A-Car Facility
What will become the largest rental car facility in the world once completed is now visible from the 405 freeway. More than 63% of the concrete for the approximately 6.3-million-square-foot facility was poured with the Ready Return/Idle Storage and Quick Turn Around Buildings becoming visible above ground. The facility will connect to an Automated People Mover station and provide a streamlined rental car experience for the hundreds of thousands of travelers who rent cars each year. Click here for more information.
Several terminal projects within the Central Terminal Area made significant strides as well. Terminal 1.5, which will provide increased baggage and screening areas, as well as a future connection to the Automated People Mover system, neared completion. The renovations of Terminals 2 and 3 took advantage of the downturn in traffic at LAX by closing Terminal 3 to the public, which in turn is helping to accelerate the project schedule by approximately 18 months. Click here for more information.
Receiving Station X Breaks Ground The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and LAWA broke ground on Receiving Station X (RS-X) on Nov. 4 to mark an important power reliability project for LAX and the greater traveling public. This critical piece of infrastructure is a demonstration of collaboration and partnership between two Los Angeles sister agencies. RS-X will support LAWA's modernization plans by providing redundant power to all of the airport's major facilities, and is the first high-voltage receiving station built in the City of L.A. in 33 years.
LAWA Supports Inclusive Job and Contracting Opportunities
LAWA is committed to supporting the local business community and providing jobs for local workers. In 2020, the airport updated its procurement standards to ensure that commitments to employ local, small, disadvantaged businesses and local workers factor significantly in vendor selections for the approximately $500 million in goods and services that LAWA purchases annually. This new policy helps translate LAWA's core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion into strong, enforceable contract language for companies doing business at LAWA. Also in 2020, CEO Justin Erbacci directed the Business, Jobs and Social Responsibility Division to conduct a disparity study which, in partnership with a local research university, will shine a light on LAWA’s track record of providing business opportunities to minority- and women-owned firms. The study will also help LAWA identify opportunities for improvement and help shape LAWA strategies to bridge these gaps.
Supporting Jobs in the Community
LAWA is focused on ensuring that its construction projects deliver not only the promised infrastructure, but the promised job and business opportunities. On the LAMP program alone, LAX has paid out nearly $190 million in construction wages and benefits, and more than $260 million to the nearly 400 small businesses that have worked on the program in its first two years.
HireLAX Apprenticeship Readiness Program Graduates Seventh Cohort
The HireLAX Apprenticeship Readiness Program graduated 27 more students in 2020, who successfully completed a transformative eight-week course that prepared them for apprenticeships in the union construction trades. To date, the program has graduated 202 people, including 46 women, 106 African Americans and 80 Latinx individuals. To date, more than 81% of program graduates have gone on to work in construction trades. In December, HireLAX began recruiting for Cohort 8, which begins in early 2021.
Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners Approves 10-Year Extension of Project Labor Agreement
In November, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved a historic 10-year extension of LAWA's project labor agreement, which sets a 30% goal for local workforce participation on construction projects and establishes rules and procedures so that LAWA capital projects can be delivered on time, with skilled craft labor. The agreement also codifies the role of HireLAX in helping to develop new skilled construction professionals to work on LAWA projects. This is one of the longest-standing project labor agreements in the country. Click here for more information.
Continuing Business Engagement
As the world changed, LAWA re-envisioned its business engagement efforts to get the word out about business opportunities, virtually. More than 700 potential vendors attended two virtual outreach events for Architecture and Engineering services contract opportunities.
Diversity and Inclusion
In 2020 LAWA established a Women’s Association to support the advancement of women within the organization. The Women’s Association will consider data, professional development and mentoring at LAWA as it focuses on tapping into women’s talent and leadership. CEO Justin Erbacci also established a Racial Equity Core Team, whose purpose is to assess systemic issues affecting recruitment and advancement at LAWA.
LAWA Works With Community in New and Innovative Ways
Safer at home orders, physical distancing requirements and limitations on gatherings meant that LAX could not host many of its in-person events that are treasured connections with the local community. Instead, the airport worked to connect with its local neighborhoods, schools and community groups via virtual connections. The results included some of the most well-attended events in LAWA’s history.
LAX Launches First-Of-Its-Kind 360-Degree Virtual Airfield Tour
In November, LAX released an innovative, 360-degree virtual tour of the airport's airfield. This unique video allows the community to experience an LAX airside tour during a time when the airport isn't able to operate in-person tours. With narrations and history, this virtual tour is available in high resolution and virtual reality. Click here for more information.
Aviation Career Day Goes Virtual The annual LAX Aviation Career Day has become extremely popular, and this year the event went virtual for the first time. The online-only format connected about 600 high school students from regional schools with presentations from a wide variety of organizations at the airport. And, just prior to the COVID-19 restrictions, VNY hosted a successful job shadowing day for nearly 100 local students.Click here for more information.
'LAX at Home' Connects With the Community Virtually
Early in the year, LAX found digital ways to connect with people who couldn't travel due to the pandemic. The "LAX at Home" series brought interactive, at-home activities and content to users around the world. Content includes an LAX paper airplane, LAX the Game, digital wallpaper for computers and phones and a video series with the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers and LAX artists. Visit LAX at Home.
LAX Social Media Continues Growth LAX's social media has enabled the airport to communicate directly and engage with tens of millions of people around the world each year. In 2020, despite the decline in global air travel, the LAX social media program increased its engagement 31% over 2019, with 631,039 likes, comments and shares, making LAX the No. 3 most-engaging U.S. airport of 2020 and No. 1 in total social media followers. LAX also launched "24R," the official LAX plane spotter community group on Facebook.
LAX Job Shadow Inspires Students In February, before COVID-19, LAWA, the Flight Path Museum, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines welcomed 45 high school students to participate in the annual LAX Job Shadow Day. Students learned first-hand about airport careers by talking with and observing employees working in areas as diverse as information technology, logistics, piloting and many more.
LAX Aviation Careers Education (ACE) Academy Doubles Attendance
The 2020 annual Aviation Careers Education (ACE) Academy for local middle and high school students went virtual for the first time. ACE introduces students to aviation and airports, teaches a basic understanding of industry careers by experts in the field, as well as general knowledge about LAX. About 70 students participated in the 2020 event, which is more than double the number of participants in 2019.
LAWA Continues Global Sustainability Leadership
Despite the global downturn in air travel in 2020, LAX and VNY continue to implement policies and best practices that safeguard the health of our environment and promote sustainability. Over the past year, LAX expanded its food donation and recycling programs, launched an innovative community portal to better understand how aircraft operations impact noise, and continued key collaborations that boost LAWA's efforts to meet our bold sustainability goal of zero emissions by 2045. Click here to learn more.
LAX and Van Nuys Airports Continue Level 3 Airport Carbon Accreditation
In September, both LAX and VNY airports maintained "Level 3" accreditation in the Airport Carbon Accreditation program. The program, administered by Airports Council International-Europe, provides accountability for airports to quantify, measure and ultimately reduce their carbon footprints. Click here for more information.
LAWA Launches New Online Interactive Noise Portals In September, LAWA unveiled new, multimedia websites for information about noise from aircraft operations at LAX and VNY. The new portals feature videos, color-coded maps, ways to report noise comments and more. Visit the new portals for LAX and VNY to learn about noise from aircraft movements in nearby neighborhoods.
Airside Buses Go Electric
In January 2020, LAX moved to providing virtually all airside bus operations using electric, battery-powered buses. A total of 20 new all-electric buses carried passengers between LAX terminals and airfield gates throughout the year, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise would have come from diesel vehicles. Each bus saves more than 44,000 pounds of harmful emissions from entering the air each year.
LAX Expands Food Donation Policy and Waste Diversion Programs In May, LAX moved further toward zero waste by expanding its Food Donation and Waste Diversion programs to all concessions and lounges at LAX. These programs require concessionaires to participate in food donation and/or food recycling programs, which reduces waste and donates unsold food to the community. Click here for more information.
VNY Launches Quieter Nights Program
The VNY team worked closely with Noise Management staff to implement a new Quieter Nights Program that requests jet operators to avoid nighttime arrivals and departures. This included direct outreach to VNY tenants and jet operators, posting informational flyers and posters in high-traffic areas and posting program information in major online pilot publications.
Mobility Strategic Plan lays the framework for revolutionizing landside access to LAX In February, LAWA published its new Mobility Strategic Plan, a comprehensive roadmap for mobility policy, programs, and initiatives that will define how passengers and employees travel to and from the airport into the 2020s and beyond. Planning is underway to take full advantage of the Automated People Mover upon its completion, and a rejuvenated FlyAway® bus service is anticipated in 2021. Click here for more information.
Soundproofing Installation Continues
In December, LAWA and the Inglewood Unified School District announced the completion of sound insulation work at Woodworth-Monroe TK-8 Academy, the second of four schools that are part of LAWA's sound insulation program. This recent completion is the latest in a series that will provide quiet and clean classrooms where students can thrive. Click here for more information.