US Airways move at LAX approved by city

Washington DC
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The Los Angeles city council has approved a deal that involves moving US Airways to terminal three at Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in order to free up space for Southwest Airlines.

Dallas-based Southwest will pay for the move to terminal three from terminal one as part of a new 11-year lease with the airport that was approved by the council on 6 March. The low-cost carrier will undertake $400.2 million in renovations of terminal one and drop a pending lawsuit against airport operator Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) as part of the deal.

The airport operator says that a date has not been set for the move but that it must occur before Southwest can begin the renovations.

Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways says that they are still in discussions with LAWA about a possible move.

The airport operator will provide Southwest with $14.7 million in rental credits as reimbursements for the cost of the move.

Southwest and its subsidiary AirTran Airways have preferential use of 12 gates in terminal one and US Airways has preferential use of three gates, according to LAWA. US Airways says that it uses a fourth gate in the 15-gate terminal at peak times.

Domestic gate space at LAX is a valuable and limited asset. Most mainline carriers operate more than the maximum recommended eight turns per gate a day by the US National Transportation Research Board. Alaska Airlines and its regional partner Horizon Air have 10 turns, Delta Air Lines and its regional affiliates 8.4 turns and United Airlines and its regionals 8.5 turns on peak days. Only American Airlines operates below the eight turn threshold, with 7.1 turns per peak day.

The current expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal only includes additional international gates, though future plans call for additional domestic gate space.

The move to terminal three could be temporary. US Airways announced plans to merge with American Airlines, which occupies terminal four at LAX, on 14 February. The merged carrier is likely to look at ways to accommodate all of its operations in one terminal in order to simplify operations at the airport after the deal closes.

American and US Airways expect the merger to close in the third quarter.