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.