Los Angeles Airport is promising an improved experience for passengers as it finishes a series of projects in a multi-billion dollar upgrade.

Over a 15-year period starting in 2008, the Los Angeles City-owned having US$14 billion spent on renovation and rebuilding.

Chief operating officer Samson Mengistu, in Auckland for the Tripartite Economic Summit, said there hadn't been major work at LAX since the mid-1980s.

"We were simply running out of gates. Since 1984 nothing had happened - our terminals were becoming dated with their design," he said.


The programme's centrepiece is the new $US2.1 billion Tom Bradley International Terminal project with 14 new gates, new concourses and seating areas, new retail and food-and-beverage outlets reflecting local cuisine and culture and expanded areas for more efficient passenger and checked-luggage security screening, and immigration and customs processing.

There also are several major airfield and facility projects, including a replacement of a utility plant, new taxiways and taxi lanes, and multi-million-dollar renovations to other terminals by both the airport company and the major airlines which serve LAX.

Los Angeles International Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the world and second busiest in the United States, offering 692 daily flights to 85 domestic cities and 928 weekly nonstop flights to 67 cities in 34 countries on 59 passenger airlines.

Mengistu said almost 75 million passengers used LAX over the past year.

The airport was working with federal agencies to try and improve the passenger experience through Transport Security Administration checks and customs and immigration screening.

"That's a challenge that's not in our control. We have to work with federal agencies at the local level and in Washington. For the most part it's a question of resources as the number of passengers continues to grow the number of agents is not catching up."

He said Congress had approved a modest increase in budget for overtime and new agents for the TSA.

"We're working with them in terms of the output and the through-put and we're getting a commitment to adjust the deployment of agents to meet the demand in terms of being nimble and flexible."

Links between Los Angeles and Auckland are deepening with American Airlines about to enter transpacific route in just over a month with daily services.

Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board chief executive Ernie Wooden Jr said latest full-year figures showed the number of New Zealanders visiting his city was up 14 per cent to 73,000 in 2014. Although the kiwi dollar had fallen against the US currency since, there was no sign of the number of New Zealanders tapering off.

Downtown Los Angeles was undergoing a $9 billion transformation, including new hotels, an expanded convention centre and popular new eateries. A light rail line that will link Downtown to Santa Monica on the coast was about to start running later this week.