American Airlines: More to Come at LAX

LOS ANGELES ( TheStreet) -- American ( AMR), implementing its hub-focused strategy, is moving to increase its presence at Los Angeles International Airport.

"Los Angeles is the third most important travel market in the world," said American President Tom Horton, in an interview with TheStreet. "So we're looking hard at LAX -- there may be more to come."

On Wednesday, the CEOs of American and partners British Airways and Iberia discussed the benefits of a new transatlantic alliance. Iberia CEO Antonio Vazquez said the carrier will begin Madrid-Los Angeles flights in April. Within the new alliance, which has anti-trust immunity on transatlantic flights, American will be able to sell tickets on Iberia's flight.

Last week, American said it applied to fly between Los Angeles and Shanghai . "For us, it was a natural," Horton said. "Los Angeles is the most important gateway to Asia, and Shanghai is an extraordinarily important world city."

It is not unreasonable to conclude that American will add domestic flights at Los Angeles in order to feed international flights, Horton acknowledged, although he declined to provide specifics.

American has pursued a strategy of focusing on markets with the highest appeal to business flyers. Arpey reiterated Wednesday that "the Oneworld goal has always been to emphasize quality over quantity and to focus on the most important cities in the world." In Los Angeles, American carries 35% of all premium passengers, the biggest share, Horton said.

LAX is a battleground for the big four U.S. carriers, which all have double digit market shares, as well as for the three global alliances. The October schedule shows Star with 485 international flights per week, Sky Team with 283 and Oneworld with 256. Many of the flights are to Mexico and Central America.

Among the big four carriers, United has 193 daily departures while partner Continental has 24. American has 120. Southwest has 115. Delta has 80.

This paragraph is for airline geeks only. Airport year-to-date stats through August show American with a 14.6% market share and American Eagle with a 1.2% market share. United ( UAL) has a 13.2% share while partner Continental has a 4.3% share. Southwest ( LUV) has 11.5%, while Delta ( DAL) has 11.1%. SkyWest ( SKYW), which flies primarily for United, has a 5.5% share.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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