Much ado about the American-US Airways west

What if the new American Airlines cut connections at its Los Angeles (LAX) hub to focus on origin and destination (O&D) traffic, while boosting capacity through Phoenix? Maybe good network sense, finds a Flightglobal Pro analysis.

While cutting LAX is near blasphemy today as the airport is American’s only toehold on the US west coast, the addition of US Airways’ Phoenix hub following the proposed merger would likely allow it to funnel connecting passengers east-west as well as some north-south more efficiently than through the southern California airport.

American has 13 gates in terminal four and an additional 10 in a remote terminal for its regional operations, while US Airways has preferential use of four gates in terminal one at LAX. American mainline currently runs about 7.1 turns per gate on peak days, which could jump to 8.4 turns if US Airways operations are consolidated into terminal four.

This would be just above the maximum of between six to eight turns per gate that is recommended by the US National Transportation Research Board.

By reducing connecting flights and flows at LAX, American could accommodate additional flights to high yield business destinations in gates currently occupied by feeder flights from, for example Fresno or San Diego, and reduce ramp congestion as it shuttles passengers between terminals.

“There is a lot of opportunity for American to streamline its operations at Los Angeles,” says Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst for Hudson Crossing. “It’s simply a matter of logistics. There is only so much ramp space and there are only so many gates.”

All network changes at the merged American-US Airways are conjecture for now but service to LAX is likely to get interesting as it jockeys with the other big four carriers – Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines – for an ever greater share this lucrative market.

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