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LAX modernization could create 39,900 jobs

4/20/2011, 7:11 a.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--A $4 billion modernization effort at LAX could create as many as 39,900 jobs and generate nearly $7 billion for the local economy, according to a report released by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

About 24,500 construction jobs are expected to be created, and the manufacturing, real estate, financial services and retail industries also would benefit, according to the nonprofit. Even a few agriculture jobs would be created, according to the 45-page report.

According to the introduction of the LAEDC's report, Los Angeles World Airports is in the midst of roughly two dozen improvement projects broken into two major categories--the $3.48 billion Bradley West & Related Projects component, and the $636 million Central Terminal Area component.

The Bradley West & Related Projects component includes construction of airplane taxilanes, airport gates, fencing, noise mitigation and baggage screening facilities. The CTA project involves renovations--such as remodeled baggage claim areas, new concession facilities and new escalators --to existing LAX terminals 4, 5, and 6.

"Ultimately, these projects represent valuable investment in Los Angeles County,'' said LAEDC President and CEO Bill Allen. "By prioritizing modernization at LAX, we ensure Los Angeles has an airport that serves the needs of the public and makes it the job creation catalyst it was destined to be.''

LAX remains the third-busiest U.S. airport. It saw passenger traffic decline after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, while other airports saw growth over the past decade. About 27 million passengers passed through LAX in 2009. That amounts to drop of 14.7 percent since 2000, according Federal Aviation Administration data. The nation's busiest airport is in Atlanta, where
traffic grew by 7.6 percent during the same period.

"The timing of this project is fortuitous,'' the report states, "bothto position the airport to be competitive as a leading global gateway and because the scheduled projects will create an average of 5,500 to 6,000 jobs per year during the construction period.''

The unemployment rate in Los Angeles County was more than 12 percent in March, more than double the rate four years ago, according to the state Economic Development Department. The local construction industry alone lost about 56,500 jobs during that period.

LAX has always been a major hub for travel to Asia and other international destinations. But the airport is facing competition as new, fuel efficient long-range airplanes enable international airlines to bypass LAX completely.

"Airlines are more likely to add routes to attractive, modern airports,'' the report states.

The report says LAX has been helped by delays in putting the so-called Dreamliner, Boeing's 787, into operation. "The delays have provided LAX with a window of opportunity to complete its modernization and renovation program,'' it states.

"The LAX modernization project is creating nearly 40,000 jobs and generating $2.62 billion in worker wages, making it one of the city's biggest and most successful job creation and economic recovery efforts,'' Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. "By investing in LAX's infrastructure, we are ensuring that the airport will remain competitive in the global market, bringing visitors to our great city and putting our residents to work now and for years to come.''

City Councilwoman Janice Hahn called LAX the region's stimulus package.

"Every daily round-trip overseas flight at LAX generates $623 million annually and provides 3,120 local jobs,'' Hahn said.