FAA Control Tower and
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the seventh busiest airport in the world and third busiest in the United States, serving more than 74.9 million passengers in 2015. LAX offers 742 daily nonstop flights to 101 cities in the U.S. and 1,280 weekly nonstop flights to 77 cities in 42 countries on 64 commercial air carriers. LAX handled 655,564 aircraft operations (landings and takeoffs) in 2015.
LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the U.S in air cargo tonnage processed, with more than 2.1 million tons of air cargo valued at over $101.4 billion. LAX is part of a system of two Southern California airports – along with Van Nuys general aviation – that are owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles that receives no funding from the City’s general fund.
LAX’s cargo handling facilities include the 98-acre century cargo Complex, the 57.4-acre Imperial Complex, the Imperial Cargo Center, and a number of cargo facilities on the south side of the airport. Mercury Air Cargo opened its first facility in March 1998, and in April 2009 opened a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration facility. In 2011, mercury opened a 16,000-square-foot refrigeration facility and perishables center, the largest of its kind among all U.S. West Coast airports.
LAX is a dynamic airport that creates, attracts and supports economic activity throughout Southern California. An economic study based on 2014 operations reported LAX generated 620,610 jobs in Southern California with labor income of $37.3 billion and economic output (business revenues) of more than $126.6 billion. This activity added $6.2 billion to local and state revenues and $8.7 billion in federal tax revenues.
The study also reported that LAX’s ongoing capital-improvement program creates an additional 121,640 annual jobs with labor income of $7.6 billion and economic output of $20.3 billion, $966 million in state and local taxes, and $1.6 billion in federal tax revenues.
Capital Improvement Program
A $14-billion LAX Modernization Program is underway at LAX, generating nearly 40,000 local jobs. Completed projects include the New Tom Bradley International Terminal, which opened in 2013 with new gates for latest-generation aircraft; new concourses and seating areas; premier retail and food-and-beverage offerings; and expanded areas for more efficient passenger and checked-luggage security screening, as well as immigration and customs processing.
Several other major airfield and facility projects are underway or have been completed, including a replacement Central Utility Plant, new taxiways and taxi lanes. Underway are nearly $2 billion in renovations in Terminals 1, 2, 7 and 8 being undertaken by LAWA and the airline lessees in those terminals, while Westfield is revitalizing all the food-and-beverage and retail concessions in Terminals 1 and 3 with an emphasis on “Putting the L.A. back into LAX,” by featuring dining and retail choices that reflect Los Angeles’ diverse cuisine, culture, and lifestyle. Westfield completed transforming the entire food-and-beverage and retail programs in Terminals 2 and 6 in 2016.
Two major projects are underway. The $1.6-billion Midfield Satellite Concourse Project will feature 12 new aircraft gates -- including many for the latest-generation aircraft – and new taxiways/taxilanes and utility improvements. It will provide added flexibility when other gates are taken out of service and reduce use of the LAX remote gates, where passengers are now bussed to deplane and board flights. Substantial completion of the North Gates is anticipated in late 2019, with operational activities to begin soon thereafter. A second phase is expected to add seven gates on the south side in the future.
To address the growing traffic congestion in and around LAX, the $5.5-billion LAX Landside Access Management Program (LAMP) has begun to give airport guests choices that provide a first class, swift, convenient, and reliable way to access LAX. The program includes five major elements: a 2.25-mile Automated People Mover (APM) that will connect three on-airport stations to Metro Rail and transit services -- finally providing a seamless connection to public transportation; a Consolidated Rent-A-Car center; two Intermodal Transportation Facilities for additional parking, ground transportation services, and meet-and-greet activities; and roadway improvements. LAMP is expected to be delivered by 2023.
Central Terminal Area
The central complex features nine passenger terminals connected by a U-shaped, two-level roadway. Curbside baggage check-in is available on the Upper/Departures Level. Baggage claim and ground transportation are on the Lower/Arrivals Level. Restaurants, cocktail lounges, gift shops, newsstands, duty free shops for international flights, restrooms, public telephones, business centers, airline lounges, and other convenient services for the traveling public are located in the terminals.
Other amenities include a first-aid station in the Tom Bradley International Terminal and Interactive Visitors Centers (kiosks) with passenger information and direct telephone connections to area hotels/motels, public ground transportation services, and car rental firms serving most Southland communities. Free LAX shuttle service is provided between all terminals, Economy Parking Lot C/LAX Bus Transit Center, and the Metro Rail Green Line Aviation Station connecting with Los Angeles County’s public rail system.
The iconic Theme Building complex, topped by an observation deck, features a space-age design. A cafeteria on the ground level is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Airfield and Terminals
The airport has four east-west parallel runways: 24 Right/6 Left is 8,925 feet; 24L/6R is 10,285 feet; 25R/7L is 12,090 feet, and 25L/7R is 11,095 feet. All are 150 feet wide except 25L/7R, which is 200 feet wide.
The nine passenger terminals, west remote gates, and on-the-airfield airline commuter gates total nearly 145 aircraft parking spots.
Air Traffic Control
The 277-foot-tall air traffic control tower began operation on April 1, 1996. It is uniquely designed to service LAX’s four parallel runways. Federal Aviation Administration employees control the air space above LAX and ground controllers handle their duties for each of the four runways. Flight data and gate-hold positions are operated from the central position of the tower cab.
Nearly 8,000 parking stalls are available in eight parking structures located opposite the roadways from the passenger terminals. In addition to the Central Terminal Area parking, LAX has a capacity of over 4,500 parking stalls available in Economy Parking Lot C.
Free shuttle bus service to airline terminals is provided from Lot C, located one-half mile northeast of the airport. Adjacent to Lot C is the LAX Transit Bus Center, which connects public bus systems with the courtesy LAX shuttle bus service to/from the terminals provided by the airport. Also adjacent to the entrance of Lot C is the LAX Cell Phone Waiting Lot at 96th Street and Vicksburg, where motorists may wait for arriving passengers up to two hours FREE.
Among the modes of transportation available at LAX are: airport buses, door-to-door shuttle vans, local and long-distance buses, light rail, rental cars, smartphone app-based ride-sharing, taxicabs, and limousines. A free, frequent shuttle bus connects LAX with Metro’s Green Line Light Rail; another route transports connecting passengers between airline terminals; and a third route transports passengers from Economy Parking Lot C and the LAX Bus Transit Center.
The airport’s FlyAway® bus service provides frequent, daily low-cost transportation between LAX and Hollywood, the Metro Orange Line/Woodley Avenue Station in the San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, Van Nuys, and Westwood/UCLA.
Services for Travelers with Disabilities and the Elderly
In addition to airlines providing wheelchairs and other services for travelers with disabilities and the elderly, LAX also provides: extra-wide parking spaces in all parking facilities, elevators, curbside ramps, accessible restrooms, and Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD) or speech-impaired installed in all airline terminals. Service-animal relief areas are located inside all terminals, as well as outside at three locations. LAX also provides a free shuttle van equipped with a lift for wheelchairs that operates between Economy Parking Lot C and all airline terminals, as well as between terminals. The van service is available on-call and operates daily. A special assistance vehicle also is available to transport passengers with disabilities or access or functional needs between terminals and aircraft gates located on the airfield.
Originally known as Mines Field, the LAX site began as a general aviation field in 1928. During World War II, it was used for military flights. Commercial airline service started on December 9, 1946, when four major carriers (American, Trans World, United and Western airlines) relocated overnight from Burbank, establishing Los Angeles Airport as the region’s premier air facility. A month later, Pan American Airlines moved from Burbank to Los Angeles. In 1950, it was officially named Los Angeles International Airport and designated “LAX” (the “X” is a space filler for when airport codes expanded from two letters to three to accommodate the growth in aviation). The airport grew in the 1950s, and the Jet Age arrived on January 25, 1959, when an American Airlines Boeing 707-123 landed at LAX. By 1961, more than one million jet flights were logged at LAX. The present Central Terminal Area complex was constructed in 1961, along with a 12-story, 172-foot-tall combination airport administration building and Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control tower. The airport’s iconic Theme Building was built. The era of wide-body jets – B-747s, DC-10s, and L-1011s – began in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, LAX added the Tom Bradley International Terminal, a second-level roadway, concourses connecting terminals with satellite gates, and parking structures. Major growth in air travel and air cargo marked the 1990s and made modernizing the airport for the 21st Century a vital concern. The LAX Master Plan process began in 1994. The LAX Gateway Pylons were lit August 2000. The Master Plan was approved by the City Council in 2005 and construction began on the first Master Plan project, the South Airfield Improvement Project, in 2006. Milestones have been achieved in the LAX Modernization Program that is expected to be completed in 2023.
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Information about LAX’s ongoing multi-billion-dollar LAX Modernization Program, real-time traffic conditions, and wayfinding during construction, visit