Friday, June 4, 2021

COVID Recovery

We are barely a week into the summer travel season, but without a doubt things are on the rebound. Last month, we exceeded 1300 ops (in one day) for the first time since the New Year's weekend, and then a week after that milestone we broke 1400 ops for the first time in over a year. This week, we went over 1500 operations. While that is still hundreds of operations less than what LAX traditionally would be doing at this time of year, we are the busiest that we've been in fifteen months. 

The most obvious sign of the increase in air travel is the resumption of daily traffic jams in and around the airport. Thanks to all the on-going construction around the terminal area, these are made even worse by the severe reduction in short-term parking. Several parking garages have entire levels that have been blocked off for construction. This includes the control tower parking lot, which has been reduced to about a quarter of normal capacity. I was personally about twenty-five minutes late to work this morning because the garages at Terminals One, Two, Five, and Six were all full. I finally was able to sneak into a spot at the far end of the roof of the Terminal Seven garage. This is so far from the control tower that I was only able to see my car using the binoculars:

The other noticeable sign of resuming air travel is the increase in the number of arriving flights who have to wait for their gate to become available. Delta and Jet Blue are the primary offenders at the moment, but Alaska and American have been getting in the game too; I even had to hold an American Eagle regional jet today for an occupied gate at their separate terminal - a situation that we haven't had to contend with in over a year.

The opening shot is something of a teaser though; A380 operations here have not picked up yet. China Southern has been the only regular A380 operator at LAX for nearly a year now. We are expecting Emirates to resume A380 service here later this month, but so far no other carriers have announced that they are resuming A380 operations at LAX. We do have a pair of Qantas A380s in long-term storage here on the Qantas maintenance ramp at the west end of the airport, and another Qantas A380 was brought in from storage in Victorville (northeast of Los Angeles, on the edge of the Mojave desert) recently for some scheduled maintenance. There recently has been news of another issue facing Qantas A380s in storage here in the California desert: rattlesnakes and scorpions

It's not just air travel that's coming back; Hollywood is returning to the movie theaters. Here is the first airliner I've seen in quite a while promoting a new movie:

Friday, May 28, 2021

TBIT West Gates Open for business

On Monday of this week, there was a ceremony to mark the grand opening of the Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC). Now referred to as the TBIT West Gates, this concourse is the new LAX home for several airlines already. The first to start operating out of the new West Gates was Viva Aerobus, who has been there for a couple of weeks already.

Next to make the move was Allegiant, followed by Sun Country.

The most recent transplant has been Frontier, who has coincidentally announced plans to depart LAX at the end of the summer. 

All of the above carriers were relocated to the West Gates concourse from Terminal 5 with the exception of Viva Aerobus, who had been at Terminal 6. In addition to these, several carriers who were already operating from the TBIT began to have some flights at the West Gates. Volaris was the first I saw to have an arriving flight assigned there.

I have not yet been over to the West Gates concourse, but a colleague has, and his report was that there were not many concessions open yet. I have heard that the city is searching for a new concessions operator after the current one opted not to renew their contract. I have also heard that some airlines are not happy about being relocated to the new West Gates. Philippine Airlines is one that has publicly complained about their forced move:

Monday, May 24, 2021

Look at that, vol 2! aka: Oh no, not more airplane photos!

This B767 was a new addition to someone's cargo fleet; I wonder where they got it?

This may have been the last arrival of the "Hand in Hand" Hello Kitty B777 at LAX. This aircraft was due to be repainted this month, and EVA announced that it would be returned to their standard livery.

WestJet has yet to return to full service at LAX

This happens to be the first A330neo that I've seen at LAX. It landed and taxied straight to Delta's maintenance ramp. The crew told me that it had just come out of COVID storage. It has since entered scheduled service. Easiest way to discern an A330neo from the older models is the blended wingtip winglets

Friday, May 21, 2021

Look at that! A collection of interesting plane photos

In addition to the published posts, I have a modest collection of posts that I've started but have, for whatever reason, never made it beyond the draft phase. This one has been one of those. I started it many months ago, but the theme got added to and stretched to the point that the original idea got lost. Meanwhile, the draft had become a large jumbled assortment of photos that I had thought interesting in some way or other. It seems a shame to leave them hidden away, so while there's no accompanying story, here they are for your perusal.



Monday, April 5, 2021

Mask up!


While the Covid vaccines are becoming available, it's important that you keep wearing your mask while you're out! 

Thanks to CS for catching this shot!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

COVID Anniversary

We're coming up on one full year of the new COVID "normal" at LAX. The vaccine is becoming available, and a few of our controllers have already received theirs. The airlines have yet to experience a strong growth in traffic, although there are hopes for this summer. Nonetheless, the TSA is gearing up for a spring break surge, even though travel restrictions remain in place around much of the world. So far, the New Year's weekend was the busiest we've been since last March:

Since then, our daily traffic count is holding steady at around a thousand operations per day:

In other news, the Boeing 737 MAX has returned to LAX. So far, I've personally seen Maxes from AeroMexico, COPA, United, and Alaska. American, Southwest, and Air Canada are all beginning to bring their Maxes back on line as well, so we should see them sometime later this year. 

Construction continues unabated. As I write, one of the runways on the south side is closed for a couple of months for concrete repair:


A recent view of our ground radar; everything in red is closed


Meanwhile, we have two new north-south taxiways on the west side of the MSC. There are aircraft parking at the MSC now, but so far they are simply parking there; passenger operations have yet to begin. The MSC ramp control has gone live, relieving the control tower of responsibility for the gates along the west side of the TBIT, along with Taxiways K & L. They have a much better view of these, as I got to see for myself a while back when we briefly had to operate out of their facility one night:

The view from the MSC ramp tower, looking to the east. The two arcs of green lights mark Taxiway K-2, which connects Taxiways K and L. The gates along the west side of the TBIT are all unoccupied; on the far left is Gate 130; center of the photo is Gate 148, then moving right 150 and 152. The control tower is marked by the pair of red lights beyond Gate 148.


Time for some more recent construction photos:

Terminal 3

People mover station next to the TBIT

Terminal 4-5 connector

Terminal 5-6 connector


People mover extending eastwards from the control tower

This is the street view outside the control tower

Despite all this talk about construction and other minutiae, this is an airport, so I'll conclude with a sequence of airplane shots: