American Airlines taking strong control of the Los Angeles market with new service to 10 cities next month

Beginning April 5, 2011, American Airlines is adding the following ten destinations to their route offering from Los Angeles. All are operated by American’s wholly owned regional carrier American Eagle, with the exception of Shanghai, which is an American Flagship Boeing 777.

  • Albuquerque, NM (ABQ – 3 flights daily)
  • Boise, ID (BOI – 2 flights daily)
  • El Paso, TX (ELP – 2 flights daily)
  • Houston, TX (IAH – 3 flights daily)
  • Oklahoma City, OK (OKC – 1 flight daily)
  • Phoenix, AZ (PHX – 4 flights daily)
  • Shanghai, China (PVG – 1 flight daily)
  • Salt Lake City, UT (SLC – 3 flights daily)
  • Sacramento, CA (SMF – 4 flights daily)
  • Tucson, AZ (TUS – 3 flights daily)

To further promote the new cities, American is offering double miles (redeemable only, not double elite qualifying miles/points) for the new domestic service, and triple miles for the new Shanghai, China flight. Registration is required and the bonus miles apply for flights taken between April 5 and June 30, 2011.

The routes were announced last fall, actually, but I also took a closer look into overall passenger traffic for LAX. The full year data for 2010 is now available, and I’ve reproduced the results below:

Source: Los Angeles World Airports data

American is showing as the top carrier with the greatest market share, but that’s actually a bit deceiving. Since American Eagle is wholly owned, the regional flights aren’t reported separately and are included in the overall American Airlines numbers. Skywest is a major regional affiliate for both United and Delta, so the 3.3 million passengers carried there would be divided between the two carriers, thereby most certainly pushing United Airlines over the top.

My point, though, is this. American isn’t being shy about strengthening their “cornerstone” network out of Los Angeles and other cities. They’re even further expanding the American Eagle terminal at LAX with $20 million in improvements this year to accommodate the overall growth. Meanwhile, United and Continental Airlines are busy integrating operations of the two carriers, and very little promotion or service changes are happening out of my home airport. With Los Angeles consistently being in the top 3 domestic markets in the United States for originating and terminating traffic (called O&D or origin & destination traffic), United might just come out of the merger with a significantly decreased market presence in Los Angeles. American is definitely targeting United’s traffic with adding Houston service, and enhancing the already existing Denver flights to include first class with Canadair CRJ-700 aircraft. I’m certain United won’t give up on Los Angeles overall, but I fear American is striking at the perfect time to make some important gains in overall market share. The 2011 version of the Top 10 Carrier chart above just might show American securely in top position, even after adding Continental’s numbers in with United.

“Paging United Airlines…”

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