American Announces LAX Expansion, Including 12 New Routes

As I hinted at yesterday, American is having a huge press conference at the Hollywood Bowl today, intended to showcase their “growth and expansion in Los Angeles, including new services, partnerships, and programs that will be rolled out in 2016 at LAX and citywide!”

Los-Angeles
Los Angeles, California

Well, the details of the announcement are now official, per an American Airlines press release. To sum up the announcement:

  • American is adding several new domestic routes, making them the airline with service to the most destinations out of LAX
  • American is sponsoring and partnering with several LA-based organizations and venues, including The Hollywood Bowl

American’s new flights out of LAX

In the summer of 2016 (as of June 2, 2016), American will launch flights to the following destinations out of LAX:

  • Seattle, Washington (5x daily)
  • Portland, Oregon (3x daily)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota (2x daily)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (daily)
  • Kansas City, Missouri (daily)
  • Omaha, Nebraska (daily)
  • Hartford, Connecticut (daily)

Furthermore, American will be launching seasonal flights to the following destinations:

  • Anchorage, Alaska (daily)
  • Durango, Colorado (weekends)
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming (daily)
  • Montrose, Colorado (weekends)
  • Vail, Colorado (weekends)

Seattle-Skyline-Market
Seattle, Washington

That’s some impressive growth, and perhaps most surprising is the degree to which American is expanding to Seattle and Portland, with a total of eight daily flights between the two markets. What makes it so interesting is that American partners with Alaska, which offers the most frequencies in the market, so in general you’d think they would codeshare on the route rather than go head-to-head with them.

Based on the 5x daily flights, I suspect American isn’t just trying to serve the Seattle market, but is also trying to feed passengers onto Alaska flights to smaller markets.

Alaska-Seattle
Alaska 737 at Seattle Airport

With these new flights, American will operate more than 220 daily flights to more than 70 destinations out of LAX.

As part of the expansion, American will also be building two more gates. I’m not sure how exactly they’ll make room for those at Terminal 4, given how tight it already is. But that’s good news, as it should facilitate the expansion without causing too much further congestion.

American-777-Business-Class - 56
American’s Terminal 4 at LAX

I had written a while ago about reliable rumors of American launching a Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight, which I was expecting them to reveal as part of this announcement. They didn’t announce it today, though it’s my understanding that the route is still more or less a done deal. I believe the reason they’re waiting is because they wanted to make a bigger deal of the new route, rather than including it as part of a much bigger announcement.

The above expansion is in addition to American’s other recently announced international expansion out of LAX, including flights to Sydney, Auckland, and Tokyo Haneda.

American’s LA-centric partnerships and sponsorships

To try and create the image of being LA’s hometown airline, American is also adding and renewing several partnerships and sponsorships. They’ve signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with the Hollywood Bowl, along with other partnerships, which include the Los Angeles Clippers, The Hollywood Reporter, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Universal Music Group, and the American Film Institute and British Academy of Film and Television Arts – Los Angeles chapter.

Hollywood-Bowl
Hollywood Bowl

Bottom line

This announcement shows an impressive effort by American. LAX has long been a market with a pretty split presence between American, Delta, and United. It’s clear American is trying to become LA’s “hometown airline,” so I guess we’ll see how that plays out over time. What’s ultimately preventing one airline from truly dominating LAX is terminal space, which has meant the airlines have all been quite capped in how much they can expand at LAX.

This announcement makes American the number one airline in Los Angeles in terms of destinations, but can they actually become the city’s “hometown” airline? Time will tell, I guess.

What do you make of American’s new service out of Los Angeles?

Comments

  1. Disappointed they aren’t bringing back LAX-SAF, even seasonally. I guess the route really didn’t do well for them. There are currently 2x daily SAF-DFW flights, and 3x in peak season. I guess there wasn’t even a market for 1x to LAX. Makes getting pretty much anywhere west of SAF impossible without ridiculous backtracking. Guess I’ll continue doing the drive down to ABQ.

  2. “I’m not sure how exactly they’ll make room for those at Terminal 4, given how tight it already is.”

    The end of Terminal 4’s pier is still a bit far away from the taxiways. There is space, if the end of the terminal is rebuilt a few hundred feet further, for 4 gates (currently at the end) – 3 on one side, 4 at the tip, plus 2 – 3 more for large regional jets.

  3. Did AA mention when they’ll start taking bookings on these new routes? The one I checked (KC to LAX) isn’t showing up yet.

  4. They already fly to EGE in the winter. With this announcement they are adding summer service. There must be a “relatively” big market, since some days they have 3 flights to EGE from DFW.

    Too bad there is no direct flight on any airline from SFO to EGE. 🙁

  5. Great to see them add LAX-SEA and LAX-PDX, looking forward to getting upgrades on west coast flights for the first time in a long time. This is certainly an LA focused plan but adding 5x frequency between LAX and SEA is a significant commitment to the Northwest as well, that’s more flights than AA is running to ORD from here. Having connection options on American from the northwest without having to cross two time zones will sure be nice.

    Seems like this also says something about the future of PHX, and not in a good way. I am not sure if this is bad news for Alaska, on the surface it certainly seems that way but I wonder if this is not to some degree beneficial to Alaska.

  6. When I saw this I was kind of hoping for MEM, as AA has really ramped up their operations there. (AA has also added an additional XNA flight, fwiw.)

  7. All I can say is they (airport) better finish the construction between TBIT and Terminal 4. The traffic through there is horrid almost all hours of the day. Being my home base, glad to see more flights from LAX.

    Wonder if they will add more flights out of ONT once the airport management is switched to the city of Ontario in July. Lots of room for growth there for those that don’t want to make the drive to LAX.

  8. About time American got involved on LAX-MSY that is now a major movie route with the tax incentives based in LA and lots of celebs do fly it for filming.

    At the moment DL is killing it with 3x daily and United have just 1x daily and SW also.

  9. Seems like this also says something about the future of PHX, and not in a good way. I am not sure if this is bad news for Alaska, on the surface it certainly seems that way but I wonder if this is not to some degree beneficial to Alaska.

    Obviously it’s meant to poach O/D at LAX from Alaska, those routes can’t survive on connecting traffic alone. As for connecting traffic, an AA/QF/CX connection that goes XXX-LAX(AS)-SEA(AS)-YYY obviously gives AS more revenue than XXX-LAX(AA)-SEA(AS)-YYY.

    I wonder if AS’s response is going to be to start LAX-Hawaii, something they have studiously avoided while starting other California-Hawaii routes.

  10. It looks like the Anchorage market is becoming increasingly saturated. You now have B6, DL, and AS all with flights from SEA and PDX to ANC and now B6, AS, AA from the Los Angeles area to ANC. Hopefully the prices drop before we start to see some airlines pull back. When B6 released their summer schedule they originally had $78 flights PDX-ANC, which look like they’ve now gone up to $99, which is still an incredible deal which has yet to be matched by AS and DL.

  11. @eponymous – I see your point, about what AS loses, but I am wondering if there is more to it than that for them. Alaska has 17 daily LAX-SEA, I am sure they get some light loads in there but it’s been a long, long time since I was on an Alaska flight to LAX or anywhere that was not full or 95% full. LAX-SEA is probably their most competitive route already, adding AA to that hurts a little, but not nearly as much as it would if AA started running SNA-SEA or other routes where Alaska has had a near monopoly. I guess what I am thinking of is how flights between SEA-ORD have changed. AA keeps reducing frequencies on that route while Alaska keeps adding them. At one point AS had zero and now they have 3x, and AA has 3x, between the two of them AS is flying half the passengers now. If AS and AA work together on LAX-SEA it may free up Alaska to pursue new routes or add frequencies to other destinations without giving up ground to DL – just a thought – and it certainly helps AA because of the connections at LAX.

  12. Im from CT so I like the daily flight to Hartford. Is this direct flight? Would be nice so I dont have to go to JFK.

  13. Also, unspoken here, is the harsh reality that AA still has 4 orphan gate leases over in T6… where if you are unlucky enough to be flying LAX to CLT, PHX or PHL on the old US Air routes you have to trundle through the long, dank tunnels via T4 and T5 to…

    I like that AA is expanding at LAX, but LAX really is NOT getting any better. And, AA is already desperately short of gate space. So, I don’t see how this results in anything other than even MORE flight arrivals parked for an hour or more out in the penalty box on the west end of the field awaiting an open gate. LAX remains that biggest dumpster-fire-of-an-international airport we have in the US inventory. And, I just walked through there at 2AM this morning…

  14. Would love to see some expansion out of SNA instead of LAX. Miss the old SNA-JFK flight. Now have to hike up to LAX or make a connection.

  15. It’s a real shame that American is not adding some additional connecting service into LAX. As a travel agent in Santa Barbara, many of my clients miss the 4-5 daily connecting service into LAX and American Eagle. Clients (and self) wishing to travel east and internationally must now must connect through Phoenix (not popular) and as a result I have had some of my clients who were gold/platinum and platinum exec move over to United where connecting service to both LAX and SFO exist.

  16. I was hoping they’d be announcing mainline service at BUR or at least flights from there to another city besides the US legacy PHX route. It’s just so darn easy navigating that airport, and having Amtrak across the street makes it even more accessible.

  17. Re T4, the last time I took a AA flight from there we didn’t leave from the Terminal at all. We were bussed out to what appeared to be some kind of temporary gate structure a mile or so away. Classy it wasn’t.

  18. Another Steve: very good point about phx, I suspect you are correct.

    I’m really happy to see this aa expansion on the west coast, plus the flights to Colorado. Although, I hope it doesn’t hurt the wonderful ak. Aside, I fly aa a fair amount, yet I can’t remember the last time I flew them through lax (at least 15 years, i obviously don’t fly them/one-world to asia nor australasia tho would love service to christchurch, nz).

    Good article, Ben, thanks!

  19. Ha! 2nd time in the last couple of years that AA has announced BDL-LAX as a new route (they discontinued it after a short while last time) wonder why they decided to re-introduce it again

  20. I met an AA employee Monday who said in passing they will be taking over part of another terminal? Maybe 2 ? Maybe share with Virgin.
    Smaller international carriers booted to go to Tom Bradley. Didn’t think much of it at the time.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.

  21. That will now bring the total number of N/S flights between LAX and SEA to 31 per day total with only a few of them on RJ’s This is crazy and seems to be the biggest battleground in the country right now. Add in SNA, BUR, and ONT to this mix along with connections to SEA from LAX through other airports and this is a completely unsustainable scenario, imho.

    Delta and American are clearly waging war on Alaska in the NW and it’s bizarre to me given their partnerships. I assume though that it’s also a result of AS making a lot of moves for flights to the east coast from the NW and LAX. I know some here don’t think it could get approval but I tend to think that the Govt. may have no choice but to approve a merger for Alaska or it could fail in another downturn and I expect United to be the one as it would fit well within their system and structure. Approval might not be difficult as It would put them in line size wise with American and Delta as they have fallen a bit and would be hard on those grounds to deny.

    I think that this is just the start of the Three Majors waging war on the niche carriers. The next target may be Jet Blue on Florida flights from the NE.

  22. As a resident of Los Angeles I’m always in favor of more flights and destinations from LAX. I just wish they would expand out of BUR!

  23. I fly CLT-LAX-CLT every other week. As. An Exec Play flyer for many sequential years, and with lifetime miles at 5 million, I have given up on AA for a reasonably priced flight. .
    Three weeks ago, (and repeatedly after) I priced out the route, to find AA was easily 50-100% higher than Delta. . Forget United. Even with the drifting through DFW and IRS, AA was much higher. So I decided to move to Delta, and will be pocketing the savings. I mean Aa’s $600 to $700 RT coach fare is ridiculous. That’s what monopoly power can do in markets where AA is > 50% of the traffic. (in CLT it exceeds 70% of traffic.)

  24. This is why I largely fly AA, because I live in ATL. Some of the price differences are astounding. I’m flying this weekend for $78. Same nonstop itinerary on DL would be $567. Living in a hub city can be great as long as you aren’t the one paying for airfare.

  25. Many of these new flights won’t be on AA metal. I know the PDX flight will be on Eagle and I’m sure others will too. Doesn’t make sense to try and expand an airport that’s over capacity.

  26. The MSP and ATL crowd have the same complaint about DL. It’s one of the big downsides of the mega-mergers– oddly the biggest hub users are the ones that got hammered.

    I’m LA-WAS weekly, but oddly neither of those are fortress hubs, with several ‘alternate’ airports in the region. And I regularly can do a RT for under $250.

    Of course, since my clients expect me to pick up my own airfare to get to a gig, this also means that I do care about fares– and makes me vulnerable under the new revenue-based schemes.

  27. Not sure how AA improves anything by building more gates. Just the pure layout of the alley/gate hub of LAX is horrible and a big reason, i think, for a lot of the delays. Well, except for the coffee machines that break -and the catering that doesn’t arrive, and the crew that is “nearby” but not in the plane, or the wheels that have to be replaced, or the “last minute paperwork”, or the luggage that “has to be pulled” or the [fill in here]

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