Delta and Los Angeles International airport have announced that works to modernise, upgrade and connect Terminals 2, 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal will now be completed 18 months ahead of schedule.

The $1.86 billion Delta Sky Way project had originally been slated to be ready in late 2024, but the US carrier said that lower passenger numbers at LAX had allowed for the temporary closure of Terminal 3, paving the way for the new facility to now open in mid-2023.

Mark Pearson, Delta vice president – corporate real estate, called the news “a silver lining to fewer people flying right now”, while LA’s Mayor Eric Garcetti said:

“LAX is a central pillar of our economic strength – part of the connective tissue bringing our city to the rest of the world – and we remain focused on enhancing its infrastructure, strengthening our workforce, and transforming the traveller experience.

“Even as we confront the immediate crisis of Covid-19, we are accelerating our work to devise a premier airport where visitors are greeted by reimagined terminals, workers land in good-paying jobs, and the city of the future truly takes off.”

Customer benefits of the Delta Sky Way project will include the carrier’s largest Delta Sky Club with year-round outdoor Sky Deck, as well as more security screening capacity, automated security lanes and more gate-area seating.

There will also be a secure connection between Terminals 2 and 3, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which Delta says will cut down connection times by up to 20 minutes.

The project is part of a wider $14 billion modernisation programme at LAX ahead of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. As part of this a new Automated People Mover train is expected to be operational in 2023, connecting to the airport’s Intermodal Transportation Facility – West, and the LA Metro light rail.

Work begins on new LAX metro link,