SkyWest’s quiet takeover of LAX

Utah-based SkyWest Airlines is quietly becoming the master of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The regional carrier could carry a whopping about 83% of all departing passengers on regional flights from the airport beginning this November, when it takes over American Airlines’ 50-seat regional jet operations at LAX from American Eagle Airlines. The AMR-subsidiary will see its market share plummet to just about 13%.*

American Eagle will continue to fly Bombardier CRJ700s for American out of LAX. However, it will close its crew bases at the airport on 1 December.

While passenger counts will be no where near those mainline carriers, it does mean that if you want to fly from Los Angeles to, say, San Diego your choices will be SkyWest (American Eagle), SkyWest (Delta Connection) or – you guessed it – SkyWest (United Express). 

SkyWest carried 1.03 million passengers or 65% of all departing regional passengers during the first six months of the year, based on calculations by the author and data from LAX-operator Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). American Eagle was a distant second with 31% of departing passengers while Horizon Air carried 3.2%, Great Lakes Aviation 0.3% and Delta Connection 0.2%.

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LAWA did not comment on whether capacity purchase agreements were included with the numbers for mainline carriers by press time. However, the author assumes that they are not because SkyWest Airlines traffic is reported separately from its partners Delta and United by the airport operator.

What does SkyWest plan to do with its new found market share, not to mention economies of scale, at LAX? Maybe they will open a super domicile where crews come in and are assigned an airline for the day – while the contractual logistics of this may be insurmountable the efficiency and synergy gains have to be at least tempting to the regional carrier.

UPDATE (14 September): LAWA replied to my questions and explains that the passenger numbers for SkyWest do not include all departing passengers on its flights operated for Alaska Airlines, Delta or United and that some are included in the numbers for each respective mainline carrier. While this means that some regional passengers are not included in the above chart, it also means SkyWest probably has a larger market share than is expressed. 

*Percentages are estimates based on LAWA’s numbers for the first half and regional jet departures from LAX on American Eagle in American’s 10 September schedule. Schedules are subject to change and SkyWest’s specific operations for American have yet to be announced.

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