United Airlines plans to connect more smaller destinations to Los Angeles International airport in 2018, increasing connecting feed over the hub.
Potential new destinations include Medford, Oregon, and similarly sized markets, the Chicago-based carrier’s president Scott Kirby says in a video of a LAX employee meeting during the week of 25 September.
“The key to making Los Angeles work is really having lots of connectivity and feed here,” he says.
United begins new nonstop service to Singapore from LAX on 27 October, and will increase capacity on routes to Hawaii from December.
The new destinations planned in 2018 will, in part, feed these new routes and other existing services from LAX, says Kirby.
In addition to Medford, which United flies to from its Denver and San Francisco hubs, the carrier serves a plethora of small- to mid-size destinations in the west that it could connect to LAX. Some possible cities include Eugene, Portland (Oregon) and Spokane.
However, United will face competition in most markets from LAX. For example, both Allegiant Air and American Airlines serve Medford from Los Angeles, FlightGlobal schedules show.
Kirby is unconcerned about competition at LAX, claiming United has “double-digit margins” at the airport compared to break-even or single-digit margins at American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
“Of the big carriers, we are the most profitable carrier in Los Angeles,” he says.
Kirby has focused on increasing connections over the carrier’s hubs since he joined United in August 2016. This includes adding new small cities to its network, including Columbia (Missouri), Pueblo (Colorado) and Sonoma County (California) in 2017.
“What really drives our business is having big connecting complexes and being able to connect our customers,” he says in the video.
United continues to face gate constraints that limit its ability to grow at LAX. The airline will have preferential access to 22 gates in terminals 7 and 8 at the airport from early 2018, when a project to reconfigure two gates to accommodate two aircraft each wraps up.
“We’re going to wind up getting T9,” says Kirby on growth opportunities at LAX. However, he does not provide specifics on the proposed terminal that would be located across Sepulveda Boulevard from the existing terminal complex.
LAX operator Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has yet to finalise plans for terminal 9.