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West Coast Gold Rush: Battle LAX Heats Up as United Airlines Adds Service

West Coast Gold Rush: Battle LAX Heats Up as United Airlines Adds Service
Jeff Edwards

North American carriers are refusing to cede dominance at LAX to rival airlines. Even United, which already counts SFO as major hub, is increasing its presence at the West Coast’s busiest airport.

California is slowly becoming one of the hottest and most contested commercial aviation markets in North America and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is at the very of center the region’s air travel boom. Airline consolidation may have sharply limited the choices at airport across the US, but at LAX the spirit of competition is very much still alive.

American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines all maintain a significant presence at the key West Coast airport. Although United has reduced its operations at LAX in the years since the company’s merger with Continental Airlines, in favor of a dominating presences at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), management now appears intent to rebuild its stake in the second largest metropolitan area in the US.

United chose LAX not SFO to launch one of the longest scheduled commercial nonstop flights in history, serving Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). The airline has plans to increase service to a handful of popular Hawaiian destinations and Portland International Airport (PDX) as well as adding flights to feeder airports like Spokane International Airport (GEG), Eugene Airport (EUG) and Rogue Valley International–Medford Airport (MFR) in the coming months. While industry analysts have questioned the company’s strategy of focusing resources on an already saturated market, UA officials believe that factors are very much in their favor at the highly competitive airport.

“Of the big carriers, we are the most profitable carrier in Los Angeles,” United Airlines President Scott Kirby told employees in comments at a September meeting reported by Flight Global “The key to making Los Angeles work is really having lots of connectivity and feed here.”

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines is employing a slightly different strategy to take advantage of the regional spike in air travel. SWA is focusing much on less on the increasingly congested and expensive major California airports such as LAX and SFO and instead zeroing in on smaller nearby airports such as Norman Y Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County to help usher its own ambitious West Coast expansion plans to fruition.  The Dallas Love Field (DAL) based carrier announced sweepstakes this month to give away a million frequent flyer miles – the unprecedented giveaway is fittingly only open to passengers with California residency.

View Comments (10)

10 Comments

  1. xchpstang

    November 24, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Explain how United chose LAX first over SFO for nonstop to SIN. Scratching my head on that one since I’m pretty certain SFO-SIN started before LAX-SIN on UA.

  2. garkster

    November 24, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    “United chose LAX not SFO to launch one of the longest scheduled commercial not stop flights in history, serving Singapore Changi Airport (SIN).”

    Aside from the typo, i.e. ‘not stop’ vs. ‘non stop’, how about the fact that UA already has had a non-stop from SFO to SIN for quite some time?

  3. sdsearch

    November 25, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Southwest ISN”T giving a a million frequent flyer MILES, because it DOESN’T HAVE ANY! Please learn something about how the Southwest frequent flyer program works before writing FlyerTalk articles about it.

  4. kaffir76

    November 25, 2017 at 9:54 am

    “United chose LAX not SFO to launch one of the longest scheduled commercial not stop flights in history, serving Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)“ … Huh?

  5. Agremeister

    November 25, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    “United chose LAX not SFO to launch one of the longest scheduled commercial not stop flights in history, serving Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)” You know they already serve Singapore from SFO, Right?

  6. edgewood49

    November 25, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Problem with UA is their legacy of lousy service, old planes, dirty and FA’s that are well not service oriented. Same goes for their Hawaiian service.

    No late for the party UA

  7. pstman23

    November 27, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    UA 1 launched way before UA 37.

  8. RUAMKZ

    November 30, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Yes, the SFO-SIN trip indeed started before LAX-SIN……but have you noticed that just about every other new UA flight out of LAX happens to be on Express carriers, and NOT mainline UA.

    How can LAX possibly “the most profitable” one, with just LHR and NRT being the only UA international flights(before the SIN service came along). And some of the domestic services from LAX on UA are really lame…….take for example, LAX-SEA……only two a day, and neither of them mainline. Not to mention 737s on some Hawaii flights.

  9. RUAMKZ

    November 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    OK, I forgot PVG, too….but still not that many, considering the volume of people at LAX.

  10. RUAMKZ

    November 30, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    And Australia, too….a bit hasty there, but still not enough.

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