No summer break for United Airlines’ operation at Los Angeles International Airport.
The carrier plans to add 25 flights from LAX to destinations near national parks throughout the Western U.S. this summer. The addition comes as United wraps up work on a two-year, $600 million renovation of its hub at Terminal 7 at LAX, where the final touches of the business-class Polaris lounge are the last remaining work to be done.
Some of the new destinations being served with the new flights include Redmond, Wash., Medford, Ore., Missoula Mont., and the Northern California city of Eureka, according to Janet Lamkin, president of the California division for United, which is an operating unit of United Continental Holdings Inc. in Chicago. The airline also is increasing the frequency of flights on existing routes, such as to Reno, Nev., a route that has seen increased demand in part because a lithium-ion battery production center under construction by Tesla Inc. in the area is drawing a steady stream of business travelers from L.A.
“With our new terminal completed, we are definitely looking to increase our market share at LAX,” Lamkin said. “These new routes and added frequencies give us more breadth and depth as we serve our customers in the Los Angeles market.”
The new routes will take United’s total number of flights into an out of LAX to 171 daily, she said.
United is dropping two flights per day at Ontario International Airport this summer, going from 10 to eight at the Inland Empire facility, according to regional spokesman Madhu Unnikrishnan. He said that some of the remaining flights at Ontario International will be assigned larger aircraft, a move that’s expected to keep a decline in passenger traffic below the corresponding 20 percent drop in flights.
The airline’s schedule of 10 daily flights out of Hollywood Burbank Airport will remain unchanged, Unnikrishnan said.
United does not currently serve Long Beach Airport and, Lamkin said, does not have any immediate plans to do so, despite 11 slot openings this summer as JetBlue Airways Corp. scales back.
But it’s at LAX where the major changes will take place.
United was the third largest air carrier by passenger volume at LAX last year, with just under 12 million passengers for a 14 percent market share, according to figures compiled by Los Angeles World Airports, the L.A. city agency that operates LAX. That’s behind the 19 percent market share held by American Airlines Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas and the 16.7 percent for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. United is one spot ahead of Southwest Airlines Co. of Dallas, Texas, which held an 11.7 percent market share last year.
– Howard Fine
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