June 10, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Unveils New Arrivals and Departures Hall at Terminal B as Part of the $8 Billion Transformation of LaGuardia Airport

TOP Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript:...

Project Marks Biggest Milestone in LaGuardia's Complete Rebuild to Date, Following Opening of Delta's First New Concourse and Gates in October 2019


New Hall Opens with Advanced Security Protocols and COVID-19 Safety Protocols in Place


New World-Class Concessions Include New York Favorites Brooklyn Diner, Junior's Cheesecake, Hill Country BBQ, Think Coffee, Eli's Essentials with Offerings from Eli Zabar and new Mulberry Street Restaurant by Chef Marc Forgione


Ambitious New Permanent Artworks by World-Renowned Artists Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens and Sarah Sze Are Unveiled, Capturing the Energy and Appeal of New York


"A Whole New LGA" Will Eventually Comprise 2.7 Million Square Feet, 72 New Gates Across Six Concourses, Two Expansive New Terminal Arrivals and Departures Halls Connected by a Central Hall and New AirTrain LGA and 13.7 Miles of New Roadway Network


Photos of the New Terminal B Available Here


Governor Cuomo: "LaGuardia Airport is going to be the first new airport in the United States of America in 25 years. Just think about that. 25 years. The last airport was Denver: 1995. This nation hasn't figured out how to build an airport. Why? It was too big, too complicated, too confusing. So we just didn't do it. Meanwhile, countries all around the world did it and you could fly into airports all around the world and they were brand new, and there were entertainment centers, and business centers, and they were magnificent. And then you'd fly into our airports here in the United States which were built in the '50s or the '60s or the '40s. And it was just so apparent how other nations were outpacing us. Who is going to change that? Who is going to lead? New York. And that's what LaGuardia Airport is all about."


Cuomo: "You know what, we needed this. We needed this today. We needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we needed to see possibility, we needed to see New York stand up and shine, we needed to remember how great a place this is, and how a great a people we are."



Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the opening of the brand-new, state-of-the-art Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall at LaGuardia Airport, the biggest milestone to date in the airport's ongoing $8 billion transformation into a unified 21st century facility. The project - one of the largest public private partnerships in aviation history - includes the demolition and replacement of every terminal and concourse except for the historically landmarked Marine Air Terminal.


The spacious, 850,000-square-foot, four-story Terminal B Arrivals and Departures Hall will provide New York's travelers with a 21st century airport experience that includes local concessions, large, modern restrooms and a New York-inspired shopping district. The new Arrivals and Departures Hall also showcases permanent public art installations curated by the Public Art Fund, enhancing the passenger experience and underscoring New York's global position as a beacon for arts and culture.


The new Terminal B will open to the public on Saturday, June 13th and serve American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Air Canada. By virtue of its size, the terminal presents greater opportunities to move passengers more safely and efficiently with improved distancing during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, including more space for check-in, security and baggage claim, along with new innovations in contactless technology and an increased focus on cleanliness and disinfection.


VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.  


AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.


PHOTOS are available on the Governor's Flickr page.


A rush transcript of today's remarks is available below:


Good morning. It is a beautiful morning today. It's a pleasure to be in New York City. The weather is beautiful. We're at LaGuardia Airport, the new LaGuardia Airport. This is really breathtaking. I wish you all could get a full view of this really magnificent facility, and the artwork, it really is breathtaking. Let me introduce the people who are here with me today. To my right, Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, who has been working every day for 101 days, done a briefing every day. They calculated, she now has enough overtime to take off for the next four years, believe it or not, so I want to thank her for everything she's done. To my left, Rick Cotton, who is the executive director of the Port Authority, who has handled so many unprecedented situations, what we're going through with COVID at the airports, and in the meantime, doing more construction and development than anyone in the State of New York has done in over 50 years. He's really done an extraordinary job, let's give him round of applause, Mr. Rick Cotton.


In this beautiful new arrivals and departure terminal, which, to see it actually here and live is just so invigorating. You know it's like, when you're having a child, and you talk about it, and you see little scans of it, and you plan for it, but then it's indescribable when it actually happens. And to see this real, and alive, and all the drawings and the years of work come to life really is invigorating. And let's thank Richard Kennedy and Jane Garvey and George Casey and Magnus Eriksson and Stewart Steeves, the CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, congratulations. You did a beautiful piece of work here, you should feel good. Let's give them a round of applause. I want to thank Gary LaBarbera, who represents the building and construction trades unions, and they have been fantastic working with us all through this, congratulations.


Let's talk about some facts and then we'll take a couple of quick questions and then we will cut a ribbon, and we will go from there. Today is day 102 dealing with the COVID crisis. You worked 102 straight days, I'm sorry, I said 101, but who's counting? And it is day 17 since we've been dealing with the situation of civil unrest after Mr. Floyd's murder. These are two very different situations. They actually intersect and they complicate one another, but they're two very different crisis that we're managing at the same time. On the murder of Mr. Floyd, which has generated civil unrest not only through this country, but internationally, literally, and I think that it's going to turn out for the good. I said when this first started, I understand what the protesters are saying and feeling, and I stand with the protesters. How many years have we heard about these situations? It's not just Mr. Floyd. It was Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, it goes back 40, 50 years. It goes back to Martin Luther King, and we've seen it, we've seen it, we've seen it, but we haven't done anything and now it's time to act. That's what people are saying.


And they're right and we're going to act in the State of New York and we're going to act this week. Carpe diem, seize the day. Carpe momentum, seize the moment. There's a moment for change, and we're going to make change. And we're going to pass legislation this week that I'm going to sign that is going to lead the nation in police reform, releasing disciplinary records, what they call 50-a, banning chokeholds, which should have been done a long time ago and that will be in the State law, having the Attorney General as a special prosecutor, if there is a questionable killing by police, where they kill an unarmed person. The most dramatic police reform in the country and it will happen in New York this week and we're proud of it.


On dealing with the COVID crisis, over the past 101 days, we're now at a different point. We're at the point of reopening the economy and moving forward on that. And that is an entirely different situation than everything we've done up until now. Everything we have done up until now has been fighting the virus, how do you contain it? How do you isolate it? How do you quarantine people? How do you do the medical research to find a vaccine or a treatment? Reopening says, how do you now restart the economy and control the virus at the same time? And all of this has never been done before. There is no blueprint, there's no book written on it. There is no expert on the globe who can say, "Yes, I know how this should be done." And I speak to all of them. The situations where you have seen reopenings, countries around the world, they're very mixed results. So, this really is going down a path that no one has traveled successfully, but if any place can travel it successfully, it's going to be in the State of New York.


Every region in the state is now reopening. New York City entered what we call phase one this past Monday. Westchester, Rockland, Mid-Hudson Valley started phase two yesterday and Long Island entered phase two today as the number of COVID cases came down. We did the reopening. We measured the reopening to a set of metrics we established from day one. As we now go forward in this new phase, there is a new focus and again, the focus is watching the data, watching the metrics, watching the numbers, we're not doing this by political ideology. We're not doing this by gut instinct. We're not doing this by feel. We're not doing this by political pressure. You're dealing with a virus. The virus does not know from Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives. The virus is a virus and it spreads wherever it can. It is a pure opportunist. But you can measure this. It is public health. It is science. Measure it and follow the numbers.


What numbers are important now? The numbers to watch now are the daily testing results. New York tests more than any state in the United States per capita. It tests more than any country on the globe per capita. We do about 50,000 tests every day. Think about that. 50,000 tests every day. And you know exactly where you're doing the test and you know the result of those tests, so you have that data. You can monitor what is happening on a daily basis. Well, do exactly that. Watch those daily numbers and if you're going to get in trouble you'll see it in the numbers. You'll see them starting to increase that is exactly what we're doing. And we present them to every local official, we put them on the website. Every citizen should want to know what's happening their community and their region. Look at the number today, look at the number yesterday. Look at the number the day before. See if there's any movement; see if the movement is up, see if the movement is down and see if we have to worry. If there's a cautionary tale or see if the reopening is proceeding without increasing the viral spread. That's where we are and that will be the most informed reopening of any state in the country. Just have the discipline to follow the numbers.


These numbers, for example, on Long Island. Today, Nassau is .8, really yesterday. Monday was .1, Sunday was 1.1. There'll be slight deviations up and down. These are not the largest statistical examples when you break them down, but you'll be able to see movement and you'll know when there's an issue. All of us have a role to play. What determines the virus spread? We do. We do. Not government. Not state government, not city government, not the federal government. This has always been about what society does. It's been a social issue. Can people change their behavior? Can they learn? Can they learn quickly? Can they actually wear masks? Can they actually socially distance? Can they actually use hand sanitizer? Can they stay away from large gatherings? If they can, the virus spread will be contained. If they can't, you'll see an increase in the viral spread.


My role has been to inform people. To educate people. To motivate people about what can be done, what should be done and what are the consequences. It has worked brilliantly up until now. Now with reopening we have to actually double down on our diligence. Business owners, employers that are reopening like we see here today, provide the right equipment. Have employees socially distanced. Store owners have responsibility, employees themselves have responsibility. Each one of us as an individual has responsibility and the local governments have a responsibility to make sure their Department of Health is out and making sure things are working well.


Well, we're reopening we're out the woods, everything is fine. No. Reopening is actually much harder than closing. Closing was abrupt and disruptive, but it was simple. Everything is closed. Reopening is more delicate and more nuanced. If you look at the states and the countries that have been reopening, more of them have gotten into trouble than not. As we sit here today, states are getting into trouble. Newspapers will tell you more than a dozen states are now seeing increases. Texas, 36 percent increase since Memorial Day. Reopen, reopen, reopen. Be careful, be careful, be careful. California, the cases are still going up. Florida, the cases are going up. Look at those curves around the nation. Why? Because if you just reopen, if you just increase activity, the virus spread is going to up compared to the virus spread when you were closed.


That is common sense. Well, we want to reopen. Okay, but you have to reopen smartly, and safely, and intelligently. Otherwise, you will see the increase, especially in a place like New York City with that density. People on sidewalks, people on buses, people on subway cars. It has to be done right and we have to stay disciplined and the evidence is all around us, what happens if we're not.


Going forward, we need to do two things simultaneously. Number one, monitor the reopening, what we've just been talking about. Watch the numbers, be smart, be diligent. Second, let's energize the reopening. Let's set the bar a little higher. Let's not just reopen, but let's have an affirmative strategy that reenergizes the opening. How do you do that? Stimulate the economy. Now is the time to do large scale development projects. Now is the time you want to see government investing, the private sector investing in building large scale developments that you know can help drive economic growth. You actually have an opportunity. Well, everything is closed down, there's less activity, there's less volume. Great. Great on one level. If there's less activity, then we can actually build more aggressively because there's less disruption. It's what LaGuardia Partners and Port Authority was smart enough to do right here. Well, there's traffic at the airport. That is a problem on one level, obviously. On another level it's an advantage. There's less traffic, there's fewer cars, well, now is the time to advance the roadway construction because there are fewer cars and there is less traffic. Because remember, what this reopening is about for us, many of the other states, they are just reopening. Our goal is to not just reopen.


Our goal is to stimulate this economy, to take this moment of pause as a moment to pivot and stimulate and regrow better than before. After everything we have been through, my goal is not just to reopen. It's not to go back where we were the day before the pandemic. Life is never about going backwards. Life is about going forwards. How do we learn? How do we grow? How do we take this moment? We were on pause, we reflected, we dealt with a crisis that we've never dealt with before and now we're stronger, and now we're smarter, and now we're better, and now we're going to come back more revitalized than ever before. Take these large-scale developments, accelerate them on Long Island. We're transforming Belmont, it's going to be a new Islanders arena. $2.7 billion in economic activity.


Now is the time to double down. The MTA, there's less ridership, ridership was down at one point 92 percent. That is bad, for many reasons. It's also good for many reasons. Now is the time to accelerate the capital construction in the MTA, because you can take trains out of service and you can disrupt fewer riders. The MTA is accelerating $2 billion in capital construction. Fix the tracks now, fix the tunnels now, fix the platforms now. When people get back on the subways and the commuter rail, they're going to be surprised. Those trains are cleaner than they have ever been in my lifetime. Those stations are cleaner than they have ever been in my lifetime. We are now disinfecting subway cars- look this is a situation where the MTA couldn't figure out how to get homeless people out of the subways for decades. Let alone get newspapers and coffee cups and garbage out of the cars. The cars are now disinfected. Homeless are getting the services they need and they are no longer living in a subway system. Yes, we went through hell, but it's actually going to be better when we reopen.


Upstate airports which many of them haven't been redone in decades now is the time to do it. And LaGuardia airport- now is the time to actually double down on our commitment and our effort. LaGuardia Airport is going to be the first new airport in the United States of America in 25 years. Just think about that. 25 years. The last airport was Denver: 1995. This nation hasn't figured out how to build an airport. Why? It was too big, too complicated, too confusing. So we just didn't do it. Meanwhile, countries all around the world did it and you could fly into airports all around the world and they were brand new, and there were entertainment centers, and business centers, and they were magnificent. And then you'd fly into our airports here in the United States which were built in the '50s or the '60s or the '40s. And it was just so apparent how other nations were outpacing us. Who is going to change that? Who is going to lead? New York. And that's what LaGuardia Airport is all about.


Don't tell me we can't. We can and by the way- we are. We are and we're doing it at LaGuardia which was challenging. This is not just a new airport, this is building a new airport while you're operating the old airport, right? This is, 'renovate your home while you're living in the home.' Operate the airport and build a new airport at the same time and by the way you're doing it on one of the smallest pieces of land of any airport in the country. This parcel is a veritable postage stamp compared to what most airports have. On that postage stamp- operate the airport without undue encumbrances and by the way build a new airport at the same time. You know how many people said it couldn't be done? Dozens and dozens and dozens. You know who said it could be done? LaGuardia partners and Rick Cotton. And they were right and we're here today because they were right. Mr. Rick Cotton-


Rick Cotton: Thank you, Governor. On the screen is where we're headed. A single integrated brand-new LaGuardia Airport. From worst airport in the country to the best. From appallingly substandard to 21st century best in class. From the laughingstock on Saturday Night Live skits to bringing into reality the extraordinary vision of Governor Cuomo to have a world class airport worthy of New York. That is what today is all about. I want to walk you through the highlights of this new Arrivals and Departures Hall, stunning, that will open on Saturday.


But first, a few acknowledgements to the key individuals who made this possible. Huntley Lawrence, director of aviation at the Port Authority. Rich Smyth, the LaGuardia project director, and his colleague Jessica Forse. Jim Starace, chief engineer and his colleagues, Saverio Leone and Carmela Cinicolo. Tony Vero, interim General Manager at LaGuardia and hundreds of their colleagues. To LaGuardia Gateway Partners, my deepest thanks for their enormous efforts, including their investor JLC Capital. To Skanska-Walsh, who built this building— my deep thanks.


Our airline partners: American, United, Southwest and Air Canada— again, thank you for your help. And to the unions, and the union construction workers and the skilled tradesmen and women, who devoted six-days a week, double-shifts— they are the ones who built this airport and to whom we are enormously grateful. As well as to elected officials, including and in particular Assemblyman Jeff Aubrey and Community


Today we're announcing a truly major milestone in the construction. Governor Cuomo announced in 2015 his vision for a totally new 21st Century integrated LaGuardia— one airport. Since then the construction of the nation's first entirely new airport has progressed with great intensity. Four years ago, we broke ground on this terminal. Three years ago, we broke ground on Delta's eastern half of the airport. In the last 18 months, we've opened two of six brand new concourses with 25 new gates. A third of LaGuardia's passengers now, right now today, come into a new gate and a new concourse. Today we celebrate the opening of this new arrivals and departures hall— the most significant milestone to date toward the realization of Governor Cuomo's vision.


This spacious 840,000-square foot, four-story facility, paired with a new network of access roadways, will provide travelers with a 21st Century airport experience: a far cry from Joe Biden's famous condemnation of the old LaGuardia as "third-world." And it wouldn't have been possible without Governor Cuomo's vision, his continued support and his vigilant— and I might say intense— encouragement. The new spacious Terminal B is more than 50 percent bigger than the subpar legacy terminal it is replacing. The new LaGuardia has state-of-the-art security. The terminal's size and hand-cleaning routines, plentiful hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless entries and a mandatory face covering requirement are examples of multiple measures we have taken and will take to keep passengers safe and healthy in our post-COVID-19 "new normal" world.


The new Terminal B arrivals and departures hall creates a fundamentally different travel experience. It will feature extensive new concessions— most of them iconic local concessions, more than doubling the offerings available in the old facility. The Public Art Fund, a renowned leader in the civil and public art would, curated an outstanding collection of four permanent public art installations by four leading artists. The Public Art Fund selections bring creativity, energy, buoyancy and spirit to this new civic space. The ambitious groundbreaking scope and scale of LaGuardia's $8 billion redevelopment is being delivered through two innovative public-private partnerships that harness private-skill to deliver this extraordinary new airport. And two-thirds of this project's financing comes from private sources. At LaGuardia, we are fully committed to a robust community development program. This project will generate more than 14,000 good-paying jobs both on and off the airport.


Indeed, at various times there have been more than 1,500 workers on this site at the same time. Thus far, the LaGuardia redevelopment program has awarded more than $1.4 billion in contacts to minority and women-owned businesses, and more than a half-billion dollars in contracts to Queens-based businesses. To ensure that residents in the communities surrounding LaGuardia have access to job recruitment and placement services, we established a LaGuardia career center in Corona, Queens, partnering with two community-based organizations, as well as the Council on Airport Opportunity. To date, more than half of the new hires for airport jobs have come from the community. Today's milestone is only, of course, part of the story. The whole new LaGuardia will feature 72 brand-new gates across six new concourses, 2.7 million new feet of new terminal space, 9.2 miles of new roadway network, seamless access to ground transportation, and an improved curbside experience with separate levels for arrivals, departures, and buses.


Here on the screen is the footprint of the entire new airport with the new Terminal B arrivals and departures hall, where we are right now, highlighted in the middle of this slide. And here you see the entire, new, integrated, LaGuardia well on its way. Every single legacy passenger building torn down with the exception of the landmarked marine air terminal. In their place, a new state-of-the-art airport worthy of New York, with a wholly-new roadway network. Once complete, as the governor has said, LaGuardia will be the first totally new airport in the country in more than 25 years. Governor Cuomo's vision and master plan for a whole new airport launched this project. Today we take a major step forward to delivering on that vision.


Governor Cuomo: Thank you, thank you Mr. Rick Cotton, not just for this presentation, but for everything you've done for the State of New York. Rick worked in the governor's office and was primarily responsible for getting the new Tappan Zee bridge built, before he went to the Port Authority, but congratulations, congratulations. And I want to thank Jane Garvey, and I want to thank George Casey, personally. We sat in a conference room for many, many hours trying to figure out how to do this, and many said it was impossible, but they stayed with it, so good for you, and thank you for birthing this beautiful project for New York. I want to thank Governor Murphy and Kevin O'Toole from the Port Authority. Our partners, the Port Authority is a bi-state agency, and they've been very supportive. And I also want to thank Rick for letting me be involved. I actually installed the mosaic here personally. I did it on Saturday afternoons and evenings on my personal time. It's part of the Italian heritage, I did mosaic in my bathrooms, I did the backsplash in the kitchen, this was a little larger, but I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity and I'm glad I came through. Congratulations to all of you. And you know what, we needed this. We needed this today. We needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we needed to see possibility, we needed to see New York stand up and shine, we needed to remember how great a place this is, and how a great a people we are. And yes, we're gone through a rough 101 days, but you ain't seen nothing yet.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office