By Amy McKeever
July 27, 2015
America's best and worst airports: New York (LGA)
Credit: Andrew Theodorakis / Stringer / Getty Images

New York’s much-maligned LaGuardia Airport will undergo a $4 billion redesign that will fully replace the existing airport by 2021, Vice President Joe Biden and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today. The airport — which has ranked highly on T+L’s list of America’s worst airports for years — has become notorious for its crumbling infrastructure and disconnected terminals.

“LaGuardia is un-New York,” Cuomo said during the announcement. “LaGuardia is slow. It’s dated. It is a terrible front door entrance way to New York. It is a lost opportunity. It is almost universally decried as a poor representation of an airport, let alone a New York airport.” As an example, Cuomo pointed to a controversial joke that Biden made last year comparing LaGuardia to a “third world country.”

Under the new design, LaGuardia will consist of one unified terminal with increased taxiway space to cut down on flight delays, a retail and hotel complex, and airport security protocols built into the design as the first airport built since 9/11. According to the plan released by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is managing the project, the new LaGuardia will also be linked to both the New York City subway system and the Long Island Rail Road. Pending final approval from the Port Authority’s Board of Governors, the project will break ground in 2016. The first half of the project should open in 2019, with the rest completed within 18 months after that.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines has also agreed to redevelop its terminals as part of the unification plan. Though the airline unveiled an overhaul of Terminals C and D just two years ago, it now plans to rebuild and link them with the unified terminal. Its construction is slated to happen in parallel with the Port Authority’s project.

“Guv, I wish everything I said that was truthful but controversial would turn out this way,” Biden said in his remarks at the announcement. “This city deserves much better, and its future demands it.”

Cuomo agreed, and both men underlined the importance of the LaGuardia overhaul as an investment in New York’s infrastructure and economy. New York City pulled in 56.4 million tourists in 2014, generating $61.3 billion, Biden said, adding, “LaGuardia and JFK are economic anchors for this city and they deserve to be the best in the world.”