News | METRANS Welcomes Los Angeles World Airports as Newest METRANS Associate Partner

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METRANS is excited to announce Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) as the newest METRANS Associates Partner. LAWA is the governing and operating body for LAX and Van Nuys Airports. It procures more than $500 million in goods, services, and materials to support passenger and cargo services annually.

As the largest airline governing body in California and the home of the second busiest commercial airport in the country, with roughly 85 million annual passengers, LAWA is not only a significant contributor to economic activity but also people movement. Like many key airports, significant growth has led to challenges relating to airport access. Most recently, LAWA has begun the development of LAX’s 15-billion-dollar Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) to add facilities and develop more efficient transportation systems to and from the airport. This project involves coordination and planning with multiple organizations across LA, including LA Metro, LA Department of Transportation, and transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. Current construction of Metro’s LAMP project is on schedule with a completion date of 2024, ensuring completion well before the 2028 Olympics. As a financially independent institution funded entirely by commerce at LAX and Van Nuys Airports, LAWA is a significant organizational, fiscal, and transportation asset to the LA region.

LAWA’s representatives to METRANS will be Michael Christensen, Deputy Executive Director, Operations and Maintenance, and David Reich, Deputy Executive Director, Mobility Planning and Strategy. Christensen has a long history of work with METRANS while he served in senior management positions at both the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Reich also has a long-term relationship with METRANS through his work on economic infrastructure at the L.A. Mayor’s office. Reich is heading LAWA’s newest division, Mobility Group, which will focus primarily on urban mobility in and out of LAX, while Christensen will be focusing on developing the rapidly expanding air freight coming through LAX.

Supply chains were significantly disrupted by COVID-19, yet Christensen notes that during the pandemic, air freight actually increased significantly. “During COVID there’s been a real shift to higher levels of cargo. We’ve seen what the role of freight can be. We see that continuing and maybe even escalating. If you look at the amount of value we move out of LAX, we are moving about 1/4th of the value for about 2 or 3% of the space used [at the port of LA].” Christensen is eager to take the lead on further developing the use of LAX and Van Nuys to accommodate greater volumes of air freight.

Goods movement is only part of the equation for organizations such as LAX, of course. Christensen notes that urban air mobility will be the next development in travel. “Right now, there are over 200 companies throughout the world who have either working prototypes that are getting ready to be licensed or plans on the drawing board to develop autonomous, electrically driven aircraft. Think of a drone that carries people to and from places. You’re going to be seeing those flying around LA in just a couple of years.” Partnerships like the one with LAWA help pave the way for innovative approaches to the movement of people and goods and the research that helps make them possible.