So Delta Air Lines is expanding at Los Angeles. What else is new?
The Atlanta-based SkyTeam alliance member has been dribbling out the expansion since December when it loaded flights between Los Angeles and Seattle (from 8 April). Flights to Nashville (from 8 April) were added in January, Anchorage (from 21 June), Bozeman (from 22 June), San Jose, California (from 1 July) and Spokane (from 10 June) in February. It will also begin flights to San Jose, Costa Rica, from 1 July.
Stephen Hedden, team leader for network planning at Delta who focuses on the US west coast, said that the airline is taking advantage of "opportune flying" on aircraft that have down time at either Los Angeles or outstations with its new flights, on the sidelines of the Network USA 2013 forum in San Antonio on 4 March.
Delta is testing markets to see where best to allocate its aircraft out west beyond its third quarter schedule, he added.
Even with the expansion, Delta will still be third fiddle to United Airlines and American Airlines in terms of available seat kilometres (ASKs) out of Los Angeles in July, according to Innovata FlightMap Analytics. United will have a 14.1% market share with 1.9 million ASKs, American a 12.7% share with 1.7 million ASKs and Delta a 10.3% share with nearly 1.4 million ASKs.
While it may be third, Delta benefits from a large network of partner airlines at the airport. Its strategic partners Alaska Airlines, Air France-KLM and Virgin Australia, and codeshare partners Aeromexico, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Hawaiian Airlines, Korean Air and WestJet all serve Los Angeles.
It will be interesting to watch what routes Delta sticks with and what it does not as it tests out markets Los Angeles, especially as the competitive landscape changes with the American-US Airways merger.