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Delta broke ground this week on a much-anticipated makeover of its terminal facilities at New York LaGuardia. 

The $4 billion project is expected to dramatically improve the experience of passengers at the airport, where creaky infrastructure has fallen behind the times. 

Delta is the busiest airline at LaGuardia, operating a domestic hub there. The overhaul will leave it with a rebuilt 37-gate operation in the C and D terminals. The carrier says the new “state-of-the-art” terminal will feature four concourses, a new larger Delta Sky Club with a Sky Deck and increased seating areas. Retail options will benefit with an increase in space of about 30%. 

“We know the new LaGuardia is one that New Yorkers will be proud to call their hometown airport,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. 

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One of the three busy airports serving the immediate New York City area, LaGuardia is especially popular with business travelers given its relative proximity to Midtown Manhattan. Also popular with business travelers are the popular “shuttle routes” on American and Delta that feature hourly or near-hourly service to Boston and Washington Reagan National.

But LaGuardia has increasingly struggled to keep up amid soaring passenger counts and  maxed-out flight schedules. Its terminal facilities are outdated and often overcrowded. That was perhaps best underscored in 2014 when then-Vice President Biden likened LaGuardia to a third-world airport.

Since then, the effort to update the airport has taken off with plans announced by New York officials in 2015. Aside from the Delta terminal, another $4 billion is being spent as part of a public-private partnership already underway to rebuild other parts of the airport. That effort broke ground in 2016, and has led to traffic occasional traffic meltdowns on roadways around LaGuardia. 

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Old, dilapidated buildings filling the airport’s footprint are being demolished. A new building, constructed closer to Grand Central Parkway, will include terminal space, an updated central arrivals and departures area, and a connection to Delta’s separately rebuilt terminals C and D.

Delta is overseeing the work on its own terminals. The first gates there could be ready by next year, but the project as a whole will stretch into the next decade.  

“Delta and its partners will pay $3.6 billion for the new facility, with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey providing the remaining funding,” The Associated Press writes. “The construction comes after the airline and the Port Authority agreed on a lease for the facility through 2050.”

FlightGlobal adds Delta’s part of the project marks “the single largest investment by any single airline at any of the three New York airports. Previously, American Airlines invested $1.3 billion in redeveloping Terminal 8 at JFK in 2007 and JetBlue Airways invested $750 million terminal 5 at JFK in 2008.”

Contributing: Charisse Jones, USA TODAY

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