Deborah Flint: An Upward Trajectory

New CEO Deborah Flint intends to build on a $1B investment from select U.S. airlines and continue to modernize Los Angeles World Airports

In spring 2014 CSQ connected with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) then–Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey on her successful undertaking of a multi-billion-dollar facelift to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – the largest public works project in L.A. history. Lindsey retired in early 2015, and CSQ connected with her successor for a progress update and to learn more about LAWA’s new leadership and the status of the nation’s second-busiest airport, LAX.

“No one doubts the importance that LAX has played through the Jet Age,” says LAWA CEO Deborah Flint. “Now we have the opportunity to change, transform, and bring LAX into the modern era for the modern traveler.”

Those who have ventured to LAX with any regularity over the past five years no doubt are aware that long strides of progress have been made. Recently upgraded Terminal 2 is already on a new trajectory, and select U.S. airlines plan to collectively invest more than $1B toward additional terminal renovations. In addition to LAX, LAWA Airports also presides over LA/Ontario International (ONT) and Van Nuys Airport (VNY).

Today’s savvy airline passenger has certain expectations of what a quality airport experience should entail. In response, Flint is focusing on guest experience and a seamless integration of new technology at LAX. A new hospitality mindset among staff will not compete with functional, safety, and security standards.

Frustration over traffic congestion and sub-par airport experience is a national aviation issue. LAWA’s solution is a new Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) to offer guests a first-class experience by way of an Automated People Mover (APM). A new consolidated Rent-a-Car center and two Intermodal Transportation Facilities (ITFs) will offer additional parking, meeter-greeter activities, and roadway improvements. The influx of public transportation across greater Los Angeles has also shifted LAWA priorities. Flint said that the establishment of a public transportation link to LAX is vital to survival among leading airports around the world. Metro has agreed to build a 96th Street Station as part of LAMP that will feature a rail and bus link to the airport. LAWA has also agreed to build an APM station above the planned 96th Street Metro Station to allow for quick, seamless transfers to LAX.

“Our objectives are for high-quality best in class facilities that will serve us for decades,” Flint says. “It is really challenge versus opportunity – LAX is poised to recreate the passenger experience, but first the facilities have to be modernized. Tom Bradley International Terminal is a hallmark on par with a global experience for travelers, but there is still so much more to do.”

“Now we have the opportunity to change, transform, and bring LAX into the modern era for the modern traveler.”

Flint’s greatest challenge now at LAX is implementing LAMP by year 2023. She plans to make the locale a first-class neighbor by acting honestly and transparently throughout planning, which will include studying life cycle and total ownership and controlling costs to move forward.

In managing the LAX Capital Development program, Flint will also build on ONT’s 2015 increase in passenger traffic while transitioning ONT to its new local authority, and continuing to position VNY as a vital community partner. Over $8.5B for capital improvement investment through Fiscal Year 2019 at LAX are now being used to improve passenger safety, and security, while enhancing the overall guest experience at all of the airport’s terminals.

As the former primary executive responsible for the operations, management and business development of the Oakland International Airport, Flint successfully delivered a $480M BART Airport Rail project among other feats.

Inspired by the unpredictability of her job, Flint maintains a “keep it real, and make it happen” approach to life. Grounded by her family and her love for the Golden State Warriors, she is passionate about connecting with like-minded community leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“Mayor Garcetti is a native Angeleno who is just as excited as I am to make the airport experience feel like it should as the gateway to LA.”

Deborah Flint