* Pittsburgh, Indianapolis among new cities to be served
* Move seen aiding oneworld global alliance
April 10 AMR Corp's American
Airlines, moving to gain more business travelers, on Wednesday
said it plans to expand service from Los Angeles by adding
flights to nine cities this year.
American, which plans to exit bankruptcy protection by
merging with US Airways Group Inc and forming the
world's biggest carrier, said the new cities to be served from
Los Angeles starting this summer include Pittsburgh; Columbus,
Ohio; Indianapolis, and Hartford, Connecticut.
Through agreements with feeder carriers, American will also
add service to Bentonville, Arkansas, where retailer Wal-Mart
Stores is based, and the Oregon cities of Eugene and Redmond.
"We've been in dialogue with our customers and trying to
understand their travel patterns and what are some of the
destinations that are important to them," Virasb Vahidi,
American chief commercial officer, told Reuters in an interview.
He said the new flights would also bring new passengers to
members of the oneworld global airline alliance, which is
looking to fill gaps in its worldwide network and catch up to
rival alliances SkyTeam and Star. Oneworld is led by American
and British Airways.
The expanded Los Angeles service provides an opportunity to
gain more "high-value customers and corporations" that spend two
to three times as much as the typical leisure traveler, Vahidi
said. Other oneworld member airlines such as Japan Airlines,
Qantas, Cathay Pacific and BA also operate in Los Angeles.
At Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, American is
second in passenger market share with 16.3 percent, behind
United Continental's 17.6 percent share, according to
data for January 2013 through February 2013 provided on the
Should the proposed merger of American and US Airways be
completed, the new American would overtake United at LAX with a
market share of more than 19 percent.
Rivals are also expanding in Los Angeles. For example, Delta
said last week that it would invest $229 million to renovate the
LAX terminal it operates out of with new restaurants and a
larger ticketing lobby.
Delta, which has a 12.3 percent passenger share at LAX, also
plans to increase its service at the airport by adding flights
to eight new markets including Boston, Seattle and Nashville,
Los Angeles is one of five key U.S. hubs that American is
counting on to drive growth. The others are Dallas/Fort Worth,
New York, Miami and Chicago.