MIAMI — Another shot has been fired in the growing battle over Los Angeles International Airport after American Airlines today announced new service to Atlanta. The carrier plans to add three daily flights on March 5, 2015, all timed to complement its domestic and international flights.
American has cited LAX as an important gateway for its domestic and international flights, along with one-stop service to hundreds of global destinations on American, US Airways and carriers in the oneworld alliance.
In the past year and a half, Delta Air Lines has also expanded service out of LAX, adding flights to San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, Texas. These flights will allow passengers to connect to flights on the carrier’s trans-Pacific destinations, including Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, and Sydney, along with partner-operated service to Brisbane, Australia, Taipei, Taiwan, and Guangzhou and Shanghai, China.
Delta has also added service to Boise, Idaho, San Salvador, El Salvador, Boston, Monterrey, Mexico, and will add a direct flight to London Heathrow this month with partner Virgin Atlantic. A year ago, the carrier launched an hourly Delta Shuttle between Los Angeles to San Francisco. In total, Delta operates 140 departures to 47 destinations from LAX.
LAX is the single-biggest market that is underserved by non-stop domestic points and without a dominant carrier, said Robert Mann of R.W. Mann & Company, an aviation consultancy based in Port Washington, New York. “It is already a huge point with international service, and I think it will be a growth sector,” he said. “It will be in the middle of skirmishes as network carriers try to establish dominance there.”
Historically, LAX has been a large international gateway, yet service beyond the city has been limited, said Mann. “But it hasn’t been served as a coastal hub gateway,” he said. “And foreign flag carriers turn over traffic at LAX. But as the three airline alliances look at additional points where they can exchange traffic, LAX is a market that they might look at to assist in the process of having service to more domestic cities.”
Mann said that United Airlines is less likely to grow more at LAX because of its position at San Francisco. “But American and Delta will battle it out,” he said. “Delta has had a large presence at LAX going back to the late 1980s.”
But American, with US Airways’ West Coast presence, along with their international partners, have the option to expand at LAX, said Mann. “And Alaska Airlines will not be missing from the mix, since it has historically had a strong presence at LAX and up and down the West Coast,” he said. “And I don’t think Southwest Airlines will be leaving town anytime soon. They will eventually go to Hawaii from there, so they will need to feed more traffic out of LAX.” The stars are in alignment at LAX for the airport to get more service, he added.