Los Angeles International Airport was the nation's fourth-busiest airport in 2007, logging 680,954 landings and takeoffs, according to preliminary statistics released Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Daily Breeze reports.

The figure represents a 3 percent uptick in flights at LAX compared with 2006, mostly due to new routes that were established last year by existing carriers, along with the arrival of new players in the airline industry.

"We would attribute this increase to the fact that new service was introduced by low-cost carriers, particularly with the arrival of Virgin America," said Nancy Castles, an LAX spokeswoman.

"Southwest announced 14 new flights to counter Virgin's arrival, and the two of them are now competing for passengers looking for low-cost flights," Castles said. "And we can't forget that the major airlines, such as United and American Airlines, have added more international flights."

Later this month, LAX officials plan to announce the number of passengers who passed through the airport in 2007, Castles said.

Regional economist Jack Kyser said he expects to see continuing growth in the number of flights coming in and out of LAX through 2008. Part of the increase in flights, he said, comes from the fact that airlines are using smaller airplanes for domestic flights as a way to save fuel costs.

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