American targets mid-size cities in LAX expansion

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American Airlines plans to add new nonstop flights to five cities around the USA from Los Angeles International airport (LAX) from 27 August.

The Fort Worth-based Oneworld alliance member will link its southern California hub to Bentonville (Arkansas), Columbus (Ohio), Hartford, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh once daily. Columbus, Hartford, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh service will be flown on a Boeing 737-800, and Bentonville service on a Bombardier CRJ700 operated by American Eagle Airlines.

"Our Los Angeles hub plays a vital role in our domestic and international network strategy," says Virasb Vahidi, chief commercial officer at American, in a statement. "Together with our Oneworld alliance partners, we offer customers seamless access to the most important business and leisure travel destinations across the globe from LAX."

The new routes strike directly at American's competitors Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and, to a lesser extent, Southwest Airlines. Delta is the sole carrier between LAX and Columbus and Indianapolis, and United between LAX and Pittsburgh, according to Innovata schedules. Southwest Airlines operates one-stop flights to Columbus, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.

Delta has announced new flights from LAX to seven cities this year, and unveiled a $229 million renovation to its facilities in terminal five at the airport earlier this month. American serves one of the routes, LAX to Nashville, that Delta launched on 8 April.

No airlines fly nonstop between LAX and Bentonville or Hartford, Innovata shows.

American will also begin new service between LAX and both Eugene and Redmond, Oregon, from 12 June. It has requested US government approval to begin a new daily nonstop between LAX and Sao Paulo Guarulhos from 21 November, as well.

The airline is the second largest at LAX with an 18.7% share of enplaned passengers in 2012, according to US Department of Transportation data. United is the largest carrier at the airport, Southwest the third and Delta the fourth.