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American Airlines makes a move to dominate at LAX

American Airlines
American Airlines moved the operations of US Airways to Terminal 6 at Los Angeles International Airport to make transfers between the carriers easier for passengers.
(Hugo Martin/ Los Angeles Times)

American Airlines is the largest carrier at Los Angeles International Airport, and it wants to put a stranglehold on that position.

The Fort Worth-based airline took steps to secure that post last week by moving its operations closer to its merger partner US Airways. The two carriers previously operated out of Terminals 3 and 4, which are on opposite sides of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Before the move, US Airways passengers making a connection to an American flight had to leave Terminal 3, walk outside of the building or take a shuttle bus to Terminal 4, only to go through the airport security checkpoint again to jump on an American Airlines flight.

Starting last week, the airlines began operating out of Terminals 6 and 4, which are the south side of the airport and connected by an underground tunnel, eliminating the need for travelers to leave the building to make connections. In addition, the move gives American extra gates and terminal space so it can add more flights in the future.

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American and US Airways now combine to carry about 18% of all passengers at LAX, with Delta and United carrying about 15% each, according to the most recent airport statistics.

American wants to dominate at LAX not only by the size of its operations but with its “depth of service,” said Chuck Schubert, American’s vice president of network and schedule planning.

He points to an A321 aircraft that American flies 13 times a day between LAX and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The plane features the usual first-class luxuries, such as lie-flat seats and touch-screen entertainment systems. But the aircraft also has a ventilated compartment in the first-class section for pets and a built-in espresso machine in the galley.

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“We think we have a product that is superior to anything the competition can offer,” American spokesman Fernand Fernandez said.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.


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