Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) set a new first-quarter record for international passenger traffic in the first three months of this year, airport officials said.
Approximately 4.1 million international passengers traveled in and out of LAX during the first quarter of this year, an increase of 8.3 percent over the first quarter a year earlier.
The first quarter 2005 international passenger traffic figures broke the airport’s previous first-quarter record of 4.05 million in 2001.
International traffic in March this year was up 13.2 percent over the same month last year.
Domestic passenger traffic in the first three months rose 3.9 percent compared to the same period last year, and overall passenger traffic — including domestic and international travel —in the first quarter increased 5.1 percent over the first quarter of 2004.
“Because people from abroad spend more money than domestic travelers, the Southern California economy is benefiting from the surge in international travel spurred by the U.S. dollar’s decline against the euro and the Japanese yen,” said Kim Day, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the City of Los Angeles entity that operates LAX and other city airports.
Day said the airport is on track to serve about 64 million passengers this year.
LAX is in the final planning stages for several capital improvement projects to enhance international passenger service and convenience, airport officials said.
Projects include a total renovation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and a relocation of baggage screening equip- ment from the main passenger lobby to behind the ticket counters.
Airport officials said LAX will spend about $20 million on short-term improvements and at least $53 million overall, to accommodate the double-decker, 555-passenger Airbus A380, which is scheduled to begin operations at LAX in November 2006.
The Board of Airport Commissioners has approved spending up to $8.3 million to rebuild five intersections at LAX in order to handle the enormous wheelbase of the A380.
The $53 million spending plan for improvements is expected to allow seven to nine daily operations of the A380 through 2010, LAX officials said.
Cost requirements for A380 facilities include:
n $10 million: Gate (parking) reconfiguration of two gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal.
n $12.5 million: Reconfiguration of four remote parking gates.
n $28 million: Taxiway/taxiway fillet widening.
n $2.25 million: Work on underground structures.