American to add flights from Los Angeles in battle with Delta

People walk past an American Airlines logo on a wall at John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in in New York November 27, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

(Reuters) - American Airlines Group Inc AAL.O said on Wednesday it will add flights from Los Angeles to two hubs of its rival Delta Air Lines Inc DAL.N, the latest move in a tug of war between the carriers for dominance in the No. 2 U.S. city.

American, the world’s largest airline, said it will fly five times daily from Los Angeles to Delta’s Seattle hub and twice daily to Delta’s Minneapolis hub. It said it plans to hire 200 employees this year to support two extra airport gates and more than 20 new daily flights from Los Angeles, starting June 2.

For months, the airlines have added flights, sponsorships and advertisements in Los Angeles to increase share in one of the last major contested U.S. airports.

Delta recently completed a $229-million renovation of its terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, with a private check-in area for high-paying customers. American said it too will roll out lounge and terminal upgrades in 2016.

American-operated flights accounted for 20 percent of departures from Los Angeles International Airport last year, versus Delta’s 18 percent, according to November schedules reviewed by OAG, an aviation data and analytics company.

By contrast, a majority of the 25 busiest airports in the United States had at least two-thirds of flights scheduled by a single airline, according to the OAG data.

The extra competition has contributed to leisure fares falling by 28 percent from a year ago for Los Angeles’ top routes, a late December report by travel consultancy Harrell Associates found.

Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell