Will new COVID concerns impact air travel at LaGuardia Airport?

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
NYC airport hopes to attract travelers with latest renovations
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With LaGuardia Airport rolling out its latest renovations, officials are hoping for smoother skies amid the latest turbulence posed by the Delta variant.

QUEENS, New York (WABC) -- With LaGuardia Airport rolling out its latest renovations, officials are hoping for smoother skies amid the turbulence posed by the Delta variant.

At times it seems almost like business as usual -- planeloads of people boarding their flights out of town or visiting, like the Ringerings from Colorado.

Though with urgent concerns over the COVID Delta variant, they were more than a little worried about traveling with their two unvaccinated kids.

"We were careful we made sure we had wipes and sanitizer and kind of told them not to touch anything in the bathroom," Emily Ringering said.

Stewart Steeves of LaGuardia Gateway Partners says the Delta variant has raised a lot of concerns.

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"It's so hard to predict. We were feeling quite optimistic, now with the Delta variant coming out and the questions that's raising, it's hard to know for sure," Steeves said.

It's been a while since Steeves tried to predict the future.

He's the CEO of the company behind the gleaming new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport, which replaced a national embarrassment of crumbling infrastructure.

"Three years ago, four years ago, I was like I will never use that airport ever again," Ringering said. "I love this, this is so nice, this is like a dream."

"It's coming back. And we're excited to see it coming back and we're excited to see the reaction of people when they come back to the new LaGuardia," Steeves said.

Terminal B is the beginning of a multibillion-dollar reimagining of LaGuardia Airport, which also includes a new terminal for Delta Airlines and a first-ever airtrain link.

Port Authority plans to connect the monorail to the Number 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road.

And traffic remains a fraction of its former self, barely 40% of pre-COVID levels.

Airlines are coming up with new routes to try to attract anyone willing to fly.

"We see airlines announcing new markets to attract travelers back to aviation and to flying, and new markets that are destinations for families, for tourists, for leisure," said Hersh Parekh of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "And we also hope to see people coming back to New York because we hope to see tourism return."

It's too soon to tell if the Delta variant will impact the recovery of the travel industry, which is already facing stiff headwinds, but here at LaGuardia Airport, construction continues.

Airport officials are hoping for smoother skies ahead.

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