Massive relocation of LAX airline gates off to a smooth start, officials say

Work continued Saturday on a massive reorganization of airline terminals at Los Angeles International Airport, the nation’s second-busiest commercial airport.

Officials said that the first day of the terminal relocations, which began late Friday and will continue over the next five days, went smoothly. The moving involved towing aircraft to new locations, installing new signage and moving computers, furniture and ground service equipment.

“It went extremely well. There was an army of people out there,” said Mary Grady, a spokeswoman for LAX. “It was unbelievable how quickly people were working. We said it would be well-choreographed and it was. All in all, it is going well.”

The reorganization involves moving Delta Air Lines’ operations from Terminals 5 and 6 to Terminals 2 and 3 and shifting 14 other carriers into the facilities vacated by Delta. Among the airlines involved in the move this weekend are Virgin America, Virgin Australia, Allegiant, Boutique Air, Frontier, Sun Country and Volaris.

Delta, the largest operator affected by the move, will take three days to complete its relocation effort. As of Saturday morning, Delta flights were arriving at and departing from Terminals 3, 5 and 6.

The largest terminal move in LAX history will allow the Atlanta-based airline to expand its local operations, adding seven passenger gates, and allow better access to Tom Bradley International Terminal for itself and its partners: Aeromexico, Virgin Atlantic and WestJet.

Delta will pick up the $60-million tab for all of the relocations.

Though the first night of the terminal relocations was uneventful, airport officials said there were some minor problems with the accuracy of flight information provided by some travel websites unaffiliated with the airlines and the airport.

They also said additional signage was needed in certain terminal areas to inform passengers of the changes. LAX had put out about 1,000 signs of various types for the relocation.

Charles Pannunzio, an airport spokesman, said both problems were being addressed Saturday.

LAX officials estimated that the undertaking on Friday night involved 176 movers, 30 volunteers, 1,100 dollies and 3,500 boxes.

About 300 computers were moved along with the furniture, office equipment and aircraft. An estimated 600 computers were relocated in the days leading up to Friday night.

The first phase of the move involved eight airlines. It began about 10 p.m. Friday and was largely completed about 4:40 a.m. Saturday, a few minutes ahead of schedule, Grady said.

On Saturday morning, volunteers were in place to help passengers reach their flights and neon green-painted shuttles were operating to move them between terminals.

As the affected airlines resumed operations Saturday, airport officials said there were no flight delays related to the move and few complaints from passengers who had trouble finding their planes.

“There were just a handful of travelers who needed to be transferred by shuttle to terminals,” Grady said. “Passengers have apparently gotten the message.”

Seven airlines have now completed their moves to new terminals. Delta will continue with the second phase of its move overnight Sunday and into Monday. At the same time, Avianca and Interjet airlines will move from Terminal 2 to Tom Bradley International Terminal (with check-in at Terminal 3), and Spirit Airlines will move from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5.

The next phase of the reorganization will take place overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The affected airlines include Delta, Air Canada, Hawaiian and Southwest International. XL France will move from Terminal 2 to Terminal 6 on June 4.

Airline and LAX officials advised passengers to arrive earlier than normal at the airport, download boarding passes, check their flight status and consult their airlines’ websites. In addition, Delta has added shuttle buses on airport roads and the tarmac side of the terminals to transfer passengers who arrive at the wrong gates.

Additional information about the move can be found on Delta’s mobile app and LAX’s website.

dan-weikel@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

12:45 p.m.: This article was updated with information about the completion of some airline relocations.

9:45 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from airport officials and more details about the progress of the move.

This article was originally posted at 8:20 a.m.

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