LAX passenger traffic up considerably from last year

Passenger traffic at Los Angeles International Airport rose considerably in June compared to the prior year, statistics show.

Domestic traffic rose 7.8 percent compared to June 2012, up to roughly 4.5 million passengers. International traffic was up 3 percent, to a little more than 1.6 million passengers.

Overall, traffic for the first six months of the year was up 4.1 percent compared to the same period last year.

Between January and June, United was the No. 1 carrier at LAX with almost 5.5 million passengers. That number does not include flights operated by regional carriers doing business as United Express.

American was second with roughly 5.2 million passengers while Delta was third with about 4.2 million.

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Airlines for America criticizes proposed U.S. customs facility in Abu Dhabi

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering building a facility in Abu Dhabi. But Airlines for America is considered that would give an unfair advantage to foreign carriers like Etihad Airways.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering building a facility in Abu Dhabi. But U.S. airlines are concerned that would give an unfair advantage to foreign carriers such as Etihad Airways.

Should U.S. Customs and Border Protection be allowed to install a pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport?

No, says Airlines for America, the major lobbying group for U.S. carriers. And with a new campaign, the group is making its views very clear. The group says the facility would give an unfair advantage to foreign airlines.

Under the proposal, the government of the United Arab Emirates would reimburse customs for the cost of running the facility. It’s potentially worth it for the UAE because it would make flights to the United States considerably more convenient. As they do elswhere, including in Canada, Ireland and Aruba, customs would clear passengers in Abu Dhabi, rather than in the United States. (A full list of pre-clearance airports is available on wikipedia.)

When flights from those airports arrive in the United States, they’re essentially treated like domestic flights. Passengers tend to like pre-clearance because it  means  no crazy customs lines after long flights. 

But U.S. carriers generally don’t fly to Abu Dhabi, so they wouldn’t benefit. Instead, the new system would help Etihad Airways, which operates the bulk of international flights there.

Airlines for America doesn’t like that.

“The establishment of this facility in Abu Dhabi primarily benefits only a foreign emirate and its wholly owned national carrier, giving it a competitive advantage over U.S. airlines, their employees, and their customers who pay $1.5 billion in annual user fees,” Airlines for America wrote on its website.

A4A, as it is commonly called, has created a full website to criticize the proposal. You can find it at:

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Inside the FAA’s air traffic control tower near LAX; video and pictures

It’s not always practical for air traffic controllers to learn on the job, especially at busy places like Los Angeles International Airport. So the Federal Aviation Administration has a bunch of remarkably realistic simulators for training.

This week, I visited the simulator near LAX with a group of high school students, many of whom want to be controllers. The kids were able to play air traffic controller for a few minutes, so they’re the rookies you see directing airplanes in the video above.

Here’s some of what I saw and learned in FAA’s simulator:

FAA LAX Simulator 1 (2)High resolution screens show a near perfect reproduction of Los Angeles International Airport from the vantage of the air traffic control tower. Here, you’re looking east, over Parking Garages 1 and 2. That’s Terminal 1 on the left. See the Southwest plane?

FAA LAX Simulator 2 (3)

With one click, trainers can turn day into night. They can also add any weather they want, including, amazingly, snow. The students enjoying watching snowflakes fall over Los Angeles. Actually, so did I.

FAA LAX Simulator 4 (2)

I’ve never been in a real control tower, but these work stations looked pretty accurate to me. I was told this as close to the real thing as you can get. 

FAA LAX Simulator 5

Above, an American Airlines plane sits at a Terminal 4 gate. Controllers direct real aircraft belonging to real airlines. The only discrepancy I noticed is that not all paint schemes are current. In the simulator, United aircraft had gray paint, a livery the airline has retired.

FAA LAX Simulator 6

In an area separate from the controllers, two workers play the role of airline pilots.  The man above listens to controller instructions and then acknowledges them using his headset – just as a pilot would do. With his mouse, he then moves the airplane accordingly on the giant screen.  Occasionally, this person purposely disregards the controller’s instruction. This is because pilots don’t always perfectly follow instructions.

FAA LAX Simulator 7 (2)

A final fun fact about air traffic control from James R. Robliotta, the site supervisor here and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. In the military, controllers always remind pilots to lower their landing gear before landing. That does not happen in commercial aviation, however. Pilots are on their own to make sure gear is down. 

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Best aviation stories of the week

Remember those fake Asiana Airlines pilot names read on the air by a San Francisco-area television station? As it turns out, Ho Lee Fuk was not a member of the four-person cockpit crew. So the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that at least three producers at KTVU-TV have lost their jobs in connection with the incident. 

The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney checks in on the premium class arms race among major airlines, United, Delta and American. All are moving to improve their product between San Francisco and Los Angeles and New York. The route is very lucrative for carriers, especially in first and business class.

United will drop service between Newark and Istanbul and Newark and Buenos Aires this fall, reports USA Today’s Ben Mutzabaugh.

When they merge, US Airways and American are willing to give up one flight between Philadelphia and London Heathrow, reports the Dallas Morning News. The European Commission has noted that when the carriers merge, there would be no competition on the route.

Spirit Airlines has some fun with New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and his sexual transgressions, via USA Today.

The always thorough Brett Snyder of Cranky Flier breaks down the second level of management at the new American Airlines. It’s relatively balanced between former American and former US Airways executives, he writes.

And finally, a shout out to Brad, a major airline first officer who blogs at  His blog is a bit under the radar, but it’s excellent, especially when he posts about favorite layover cities and the difference in landing the 737 versus the MD80.

Happy reading.

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British Airways to add second Airbus A380 flight at LAX

By Spring 2014, British Airways should have two daily A380 flights to Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of British Airways.

By Spring 2014, British Airways should have two daily A380 flights to Los Angeles.   Photo courtesy of British Airways.

By next spring, British Airways should have two Airbus A380 flights between Los Angeles and London. Though it will usually have just one A380 flight, the airline is planning to add a second during the busy tourist season.

The change was first reported by It goes into effect April 10. That’s a long way away, so of course it can change between now and then.

British Airways, a new operator of the jet, starts its first A380 flight between Los Angeles and London in September. Los Angeles is supposed to be the first scheduled A380 service for the airline.

LAX sees more A380s than just about any other city in the world. Can you name all the airlines that fly the plane to LAX?


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