Airport update: Plans at LAX, PHX, SIN

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Air travelers will find car rental heaven in Phoenix and a low-cost carrier haven in Singapore, but theyll be waiting a while longer for the modernization of Los Angeles Airport.

" The Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Jan. 18 to a legal settlement that kills an $11 billion modernization and expansion plan for Los Angeles Airport, capping its growth in favor of distributing travel demand among several airports in the region.

The citys new mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, favors a more modest modernization plan. He initiated the agreement, which settles lawsuits filed against the Master Plan by Los Angeles County, three municipalities and a community group.

Under the settlement, the airport will be required to reduce the number of gates (it now has 163) to control traffic growth if the annual passenger count rises above 75 million after 2010. Its at 62 million passengers now.

The city still will be able to build gates for the new, super-sized A380 aircraft.

" Singapore completed construction of an airport terminal customized for low-cost airlines and plans a March 26 opening for the facility, which may be the first of its kind. Singapore spent $27.6 million on what it has named Budget Terminal, hoping to capitalize on a low-cost carrier boom in Asia. By keeping costs low, it will be able to charge airlines a lower fee than full-service airports.

The terminal does not include any jet bridges, so travelers will have to walk about 65 feet on the tarmac and use steps to board and disembark from the aircraft. But the terminal wont be without amenities: its services will include free Internet access and local phone calls, a free shuttle to and from nearby Changi Airport, 13 retail outlets (including two duty-free shops), four food kiosks and a restaurant.

" Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport opened a center to house 13 car rental companies and a three-level parking garage with the capacity for 5,600 rental cars.

The airport has a designated Rental Car Center bus for the five-minute ride to the facility, which is near two major interstate highways. Airport officials said the new center will reduce congestion on airport roadways and confusion at the terminals curbs.

Sky Harbor said it is the U.S.s third-largest airport car rental market, with more than a million transactions each year.

To contact reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].

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