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HOK Comments on Trend of Airlines Investing in Airport Redevelopment Projects

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B HOK

New terminals underway in New York, Atlanta and Salt Lake City show how carriers are willing to make major investments in their brands.

Excerpted from Passenger Terminal World:

In July 2017 investment banking firm Goldman Sachs exited a deal to co-finance a $4 billion project to redevelop Terminals C and D at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The move came after Delta Air Lines, its financial partner in the project, opted to pay for the redevelopment itself “following a period of fiscal review.”

That Delta was prepared to go it alone on such a huge financial undertaking speaks to the carrier’s growing ambition, according to Robert Chicas, director of Aviation + Transportation at design firm HOK. “These decisions are not made lightly,” says Chicas. “What Delta has done is demonstrate its position at the forefront of U.S. carriers.”

The LaGuardia refurb follows two other airport improvement projects where Delta has a financial stake: a $3.6 billion redevelopment at Salt Lake City International and a $6 billion expansion of the domestic terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. It’s unclear how much Delta is investing in these two airport projects, though it will probably be significantly less than the LaGuardia investment.

HOK is involved with redevelopment projects at all three of the U.S. airports (although the company is not undertaking the Delta portion of the work at LaGuardia). According to Matt Needham, HOK’s regional leader of aviation and transportation, Delta’s willingness to put up its own money to fund these improvements is part of a growing recognition among airlines that airports “are now an extension of their brand.”

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