It may have seemed like a cheap dig at the time, but Vice President Biden’s recent quip that LaGuardia Airport is fit for a Third World nation was on the money, said the man in charge of the city’s airports, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye.
Foye, the keynote speaker at the first QNS Real Estate Conference on Thursday, sponsored by The Queens Courier, conceded that the city’s oldest airport is in need of a major overhaul — and he pledged that the revamp will get done.
“Queens has been a gateway to the world for more than 100 years,” Foye told more than 350 real estate executives who turned out for the breakfast forum at Terrace on the Park. “The only way to keep that moniker is to update and improve the borough’s airports.”
“Vice President Biden made a comment, which sadly I happen to agree with in large part, which is, that parts of LaGuardia look like a third-world nation,” Foye said.
This statement was made about the central terminal building in LaGuardia Airport. In response, the Port Authority is currently looking to do a redesign of that building.
The current terminal is decades old and vastly out-dated. A redesign is greatly needed, Foye pointed out, and the Port Authority is working on getting that built.
“The central terminal building has long outlived its usefulness,” Foye admitted. He continued by saying that the central terminal building was “built for a different generation of aircraft and for a far smaller number of passengers coming through on an annual basis.”
Another project the Port Authority is focusing on is the creation of a proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia, connecting the airport to the Willets Point station for the No. 7 subway and the nearby Long Island Rail Road station.
Foye believes that a public transportation option from Midtown Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport will help reduce congestion on roadways and generate revenue for the city. He went on to talk about the Port Authority’s Capital Plan that funds major transportation projects in both New York and New Jersey.
“Last year the Port Authority board approved a capital plan of $27.6 billion over 10 years. That includes $8 billion for our airports, and $5 billion alone for JFK and LaGuardia,” he said.
Foye said the capital funds will be instrumental in making important strides in improving Queens’ airports.
There will be major runway projects conducted at JFK, the construction of a new electric substation at LaGuardia along with the completion of new parking structures at the airports, which is currently underway, he explained.
With Queens being named the top U.S. tourist destination by Lonely Planet, the Port Authority is committed to updating the area airports to better receive and service those travelers.
The event, co-hosted by The Queens Courier and the Real Estate Board of New York, was focused on the current real estate boom taking place in the borough.
Borough President Melinda Katz, who opened the morning conference, said Queens is “the hot and on-the-move borough when it comes to real estate in the city of New York.”
She went on to explain some of the borough’s top assets driving the new real estate boon, including museums, cultural diversity and what she believes is the “biggest asset,” the aviation industry.
In 2014, more than 80 million travelers came through both of Queens’ airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.