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Delta cuts ribbon on new LaGuardia concourse

 Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton spoke at a news conference on Tuesday about the new Delta Air Lines Teminal C concourse.  (Credit: Howard Schnapp; Photo Credit NYGOV / Noah Rayman)

A new concourse at LaGuardia Airport opened Tuesday, the latest part of an $8 billion overhaul that aims to replace the decaying facility in Queens with a world-class airport.

Delta Air Lines showed off the Terminal C concourse to a crowd of several hundred that included Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as well as Delta employees, construction workers who put up the building, and New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

“We are in a competition, and the airports are the new front door," said Cuomo, a major backer of the revamping. "You don't build a new airport, Europe will build a new airport, Asia will build a new airport, and they are, by the way.”

The Delta concourse is part of a major overhaul that will include more new concourses and terminals, as well as an AirTrain that would connect LaGuardia to the subway and Long Island Rail Road at Willets Point. Currently there is no train linked directly to the airport, unlike almost every other major urban airport in the country.

The entire project is taking place while the facility — which Vice President Joe Biden once compared with an airport in “some Third World country” — continues to function. It is the first new major airport built in the United States in 25 years, Cuomo said.

“We are tearing down every single passenger building with the exception of the landmark Marine Air Terminal and building a new state of the art airport worthy of New York,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Delta expects passengers to begin using the concourse's seven gates on Monday. By mid-November, the concourse will be used mainly for shuttle flights to Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C.

The new 105,000-square-foot concourse sits on the airport's eastern side, offering panoramic views of Flushing Bay and Citi Field, the home of the Mets. New dining options include H&H Bagels and Flatiron Tavern & Provisions.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Syndergaard said. “It’s going to help us with travel and also help the entire city and state of New York. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

A new concourse opened in Terminal B late last year, serving airlines including Air Canada, American, Southwest and United.

Delta is the largest airline at LaGuardia, operating 275 flights a day, said Ed Bastian, the company’s CEO. It is marking its 50th anniversary at LaGuardia, and will operate out of Terminals C and D.

“What the greatest city in the world deserves is a great front door and a great accessway,” Bastian said.

The concourse is the first of four planned in the $4 billion new Terminal C, most of which was paid for by Delta, officials said. The new Terminal B, constructed and operated by the private consortium LaGuardia Gateway Partners, will also cost $4 billion. Delta and LaGuardia Gateway Partners are financing approximately two-thirds of the cost, with the Port Authority picking up the rest, according to Cuomo's office.

The AirTrain is another $2 billion.

Cuomo said “every engineer, every consultant, everyone told us it is impossible to rebuild LaGuardia Airport while you operate LaGuardia Airport,” partly because it is so small — just 680 acres, leaving little room to construct new buildings while the old ones still functioned.

When completed, the new Terminal C will have 37 gates overall.

The concourse is right next to Flushing Bay and the building was designed so that overflowing water could flow under an existing sea wall, said Delta spokesman Ryan Marzullo.

When the entire LaGuardia overhaul is completed by 2025, all four terminals will be connected for the first time, Cotton said.

The AirTrain will take between 6 million and 10 million passengers a year out of cars and off congested roadways, he said.

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