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LAX to "set the bar" for airports

Los Angeles Airport, for years the bane of international travellers, will set the bar for other airports to follow when its new terminal opens later this year, the city’s tourism leader has declared.

The Tom Bradley International terminal, part of a US$4 billion overhaul of the airport, opens this northern hemisphere summer, bringing a range of high-end restaurants, bars and shops to LAX.

It will also bring desperately-needed improvements to customs and immigration processing.

The redevelopment of the airport is the largest private-public deal in the history of Los Angeles.

Ernest Wooden Jr, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, told a media briefing at IPW in Las Vegas, that the US$1.5b terminal was the “centerpiece” of the new look airport and one that would transform the experience for travellers.

“It will revolutionise the international passenger experience,” he said. “It will be a faster, friendlier and easier experience…and is intended to set the bar for every other airport.”

The terminal will feature 15 restaurants, 13 of which are local to Los Angeles.

LAX has traditionally been viewed with trepidation by international passengers for its unfriendly welcome, long wait times at customs and immigration and appallingly poor facilities and service.

Wooden Jr said the city was also ramping up its high-end hotel product as it works towards its goal of attracting 50 million visitors by the end of the decade.

“Los Angeles has occupancy of 80% plus and we have a real opportunity to grow our hotel base,” he said.

Such is the capacity squeeze that even 5000 additional hotel rooms would not negatively impact those occupancies, Wooden Jr added.

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