Delta opportunely building Los Angeles hub

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Delta Air Lines is taking advantage of idle aircraft to test new markets as it expands its operations at Los Angeles International airport.

The Atlanta-based SkyTeam alliance member is taking advantage of "opportune flying" on aircraft that have down time at either Los Angeles or outstations with its new flights, says Stephen Hedden, a team leader for network planning at Delta who focuses on the US west coast, on the sidelines of the Network USA 2013 forum in San Antonio today.

Delta will begin new flights from Los Angeles to Nashville and Seattle on 8 April, San Jose (California) and Spokane on 10 June, Anchorage on 21 June, Bozeman on 22 June and Boston on 12 August. It will also increase frequency between Los Angeles and Oakland, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Francisco on 10 June, and Puerto Vallarta on 1 July.

Hedden says that the airline is testing at markets to see where best to allocate its aircraft out west beyond its third quarter schedule.

Delta benefits from a large slate of international connections, both on its own metal and its partners, at Los Angeles. The airline flies to Sydney and Tokyo Haneda nonstop from the airport, and its joint venture partners Virgin Australia to Brisbane and Melbourne, and Air France-KLM to Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Tahiti.

Hedden says that Brisbane and Melbourne are two of its largest international connecting markets over Los Angeles.

Delta also benefits from the large operations on a number of its codeshare partners, including Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines and Korean Air.

The carrier had 115 peak day departures from Los Angeles in February, it says.