On January 20, American Airlines hosted a “Best in LAX” themed event at the Hollywood Bowl, highlighted by a large expansion of nonstop domestic flights from Los Angeles International Airport. However, what was remarkable was what wasn’t announced…
What wasn’t announced…
What flyers have been clamoring about the past few weeks was the anticipated introduction of service from LAX to Hong Kong. All signs pointed to this announcement being the pinnacle of an otherwise well-polished shindig in the shadows of one of the entertainment industry’s great landmarks.
And *poof*… it never appeared. It was the elephant that wasn’t in the room. Among the numerous announcements and proclamations about new nonstop services, enhanced passenger experiences, improvements to the airport, and general atmosphere of the event, not even a mere reference to any additional international service.
Soon after the press conference was over, I tracked down a company executive and was given the official response to the matter: That it was all just a rumor, and that American had never intended to announce service to Hong Kong at this event. Pretty unequivocal, but insiders’ statements that today was going to be “the day” were hard to ignore.
You only had to point to this event itself to get the feeling that something bigger was supposed to be announced. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a shindig as much as the next person, and it wouldn’t be the first time an airline hyped up a press conference over something pretty mundane. However, this is not American’s modus operandi; based on previous behavior, the announcements of new domestic service would have been in a press release.
I dug around a little deeper and was able to cobble together what might have happened to the announcement, or if LAX-HKG was going to happen at all:
- While delayed, service to Hong Kong was definitely going to happen;
- The announcement may be delayed by a few months, with service starting in the latter half of this year;
- The non-announcement may be related to problems securing viable time slots for HKG, as that airport is slot-restricted due to capacity issues.
So while many of us (yours truly included) was looking forward to hearing about Hong Kong, that will just have to wait a little while longer…
What was announced…
That said, American did announce a significant expansion of its nonstop flight offerings from Los Angeles, set to begin June 2. Most significant of these new routes were to Seattle and Portland, both routes that American was content with leaving up to codeshare partner Alaska Airlines to service. American will have five daily flights to Seattle, operated by four Airbus A319s in American’s pre-merger configuration, along with one flight operated by a Compass Airlines Embraer E-175. To Portland, three new daily flights will all be operated by Compass E-175s.
Also noteworthy is the commencement of double-daily flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul, a fortress hub for Delta Air Lines, who is also embroiled in a bid to build a gateway hub in Seattle (home airport of Alaska) as well as jockeying for position at LAX.
American’s new flight service from Los Angeles is as follows:
- Daily Destinations
- Seattle (SEA), 5x Daily
- Portland, Oregon (PDX), 3x Daily
- Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota (MSP), 2x Daily
- New Orleans (MSY), Daily
- Kansas City, Missouri (MCI), Daily
- Omaha, Nebraska (OMA), Daily
- Hartford, Connecticut (BDL), Daily
- Seasonal Destinations
- Anchorage, Alaska (ANC), Daily
- Durango, Colorado (DRO), Weekend
- Summer Schedules
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming (JAC), Daily
- Montrose, Colorado (MTJ), Weekend
- Vail/Eagle, Colorado (EGE), Weekend
Along with previously announced flights to Sydney, Tokyo-Haneda, and Auckland, these new flights allow American to claim the most number of destinations served nonstop from Los Angeles, with 220 daily departures to 70 destinations on five continents.
To operate all these new flights, American will be installing additional gates in Terminal 4 this summer, as well as accessing gates at the Tom Bradley International Terminal when the Terminal 4 Connector project is completed in mid-February. To support this growth, American anticipates that 200 new jobs will be added this year to their 5,000-strong workforce at LAX.
American also took the opportunity to highlight the carrier’s deep relationship with the entertainment industry and announce a new sponsorship with the Hollywood Bowl, as well give shoutouts to other corporate partners, such as the Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Clippers, whose owner was in attendance.
All in all, it was a pretty well to-do event at an iconic Hollywood venue made memorable for its inclusion of only domestic service announcements. Hopefully, American will throw as big of a reception if for when they announce service to Hong Kong.