Passenger traffic at LAX jumped 7.3 percent between January 2013 and January 2014

LAX had an impressive January in passenger traffic. Photo: Brad Graverson.

LAX had an impressive January in passenger traffic. Photo: Brad Graverson.

Los Angeles International Airport could be on pace for a record year in passenger traffic, according to statistics released this week.

LAX accommodated 5.4 million passengers in January, an increase of 7.3 percent compared to January 2013. The airport did this despite the fact that January, especially the first two weeks, is a notoriously slow time for air travel.

In 2013, LAX set an all-time record for international traffic, with 17.9 million international travelers. It had set the previous record of 17.5 million in 2005. But LAX has still yet to match its overall pre-9/11 peak of 67.3 million. Last year, it accommodated 66.7 million total passengers.

Where’s the growth coming from? Everywhere except Terminal 4 (American Airlines and American Eagle), Terminal 6 (Alaska and United) and Terminal 8 (United and United Express), according to the data.

The biggest jump in the airport’s nine terminals? That happened in Terminal 5, where Delta has been expanding its number of flights. The number of passengers in Terminal 5 rose 28.37 percent from January 2013 to January 2014. In real numbers, the passenger count increased from 525,208 to 674,234.

This is good news for the Los Angeles economy. But I’ve heard from people who used LAX in the late 1990s that the traffic in the Central Terminal Area could get horrendous. There’s only so much space for cars to go. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to traffic as the number of passengers continues to grow. (And barring changes in the economy or market forces it will — airlines are bullish on LAX these days.)

For my data inclined readers, here’s the full report:

Los Angeles International Airport Air Traffic report

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Neil Patrick Harris and Julianna Margulies star in new American Airlines ads

All photos via American Airlines.

Recognized the guy on the left? How about the one on the right? All photos via American Airlines.

American Airlines this week is launching a new advertising campaign for its lucrative New York to Los Angeles flights in an attempt to remind travelers of the carrier’s glory age.

You’ll see Neil Patrick Harris and Julianna Margulies, as well as classic shots of Grace Kelly and Gregory Peck, who apparently flew American a lot back in the day.

The print ads are black-and-white, except for color shots of the new American Airlines tail design. American is proud of its brand new A321 aircraft, which it began flying last month between Los Angeles and New York. The plane has three classes — economy, business and first — and American is banking that travelers on this route will continue buying lucrative premium cabin tickets. Notably, American is the only airline flying between the cities that offers both first and business class. Delta, Virgin and United only offer two classes.

Video ads will be released soon.

“We have such a rich heritage in the transcon market,” said Fern Fernandez, American’s vice president of global marketing. “For some years we hadn’t really hadn’t invested in the right way. The crux of the campaign is that we want to remind people that we invented trans-continental service. Now we are completely reinventing and taking a different approach in this market.”

What do you think of the advertising campaign? Much of it was shot in L.A.

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American Airlines drops Santa Barbara-Los Angeles route

American will no longer fly to Santa Barbara. Handout photo by Lawrence Anderson.

American will no longer fly to Santa Barbara. Handout photo by Lawrence Anderson.

American Airlines will cease flying between Los Angeles International Airport and Santa Barbara, effective April 1, the airline said Thursday.

I had read rumors this was happening and in December contacted Santa Barbara Airport. At the time, airport spokeswoman Lynn Houston told me that the rumor was not true. But unfortunately for the airport, it was.

“We continually evaluate our network to ensure we’re maximizing our fleet and profitability while matching customer demand. As part of this ongoing process, beginning April 1, American will no longer offer service between Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX),” American spokesman Matt Miller said in an email. “US Airways will continue to offer customers access to SBA from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).”

As most travelers know, American and US Airways are now both operated by American Airlines Group. Eventually, probably mid-2015, they’ll have a single operating certificate and be run as one airline.

This move makes a lot of sense. American was never in this market to fly passengers between L.A. and Santa Barbara. It was about making sure travelers in Santa Barbara had access to the airline’s network — that they could get to New York or Hawaii or London with one stop. Phoenix, which has been a US Airways hub, mostly serves the same purpose, though with one major drawback. For now, US Airways does not offer any long-haul international flights from Phoenix. So until that changes, Santa Barbara customers flying American/US Airways will have limited international connection options. The same problem goes with American’s OneWorld partners. There are a few OneWorld international flights from Phoenix, but not many. LAX has a lot more — flights to Asia, South America and Europe on American’s partners.

Of course, loyal American customers always have the opportunity to drive to LAX.

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$10 fares to Europe? Maybe, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary says

Will Ryanair ever fly to the United States? Above, a photo of one of the airline's planes. Notice the ads? Photo: Oscar von Bonsdorf, via  Creative Commons.

Will Ryanair ever fly to the United States? Above, a photo of one of the airline’s planes. Notice the ads? Photo: Oscar von Bonsdorf, via Creative Commons.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said his ultra discount Irish airline could someday offer 10 Euro one-way fares between major European cities and Boston and New York, according to the Irish Independent newspaper. That’s a bit more than $13.60 one-way at current exchange rates. (Flights to Europe could be priced even lower – at $10 one way.)

O’Leary has a habit of making outrageous statements — he has ruminated on one-pilot airplanes and pay toilets on board — but he has also shown himself to be a shrewd businessman. His Ryanair, on which you pay for just about everything, from food to seat assignments to speaking with a human at most points in the traveling process, has been wildly successful.

So if the man says he might offer 10 Euro flights between Europe and the U.S., it’s worth listening. Ryanair doesn’t yet have the fleet for overwater flights — it has about 300 737s –but that could change. A much smaller competitor within Europe, Norwegian Air Shuttle, has recently started trans-Atlantic flights and will soon start service between L.A. and London, Oslo, Cophenhagen and Stockholm.

O’Leary said it could be five years before the airline buys the planes it needs, according to the Independent.

So how will Ryanair make money with such cheap fares? For one, there will be relatively few 10 Euro tickets available on each flight. For another, the carrier will continue to charge for everything. So unless you bring no luggage, don’t want food or drink and have no interested in interacting with a human, you’ll pay far more than than 10 Euro or $10. Also, O’Leary signaled, Ryanair could put some sort of premium cabin on its flights. Passengers in those seats would pay more,  giving the carrier some extra profit.

“We can make money on 99 cent fares in Europe – not every seat will be €10 of course, there will also need to be a very high number of business or premium seats,” O’Leary said, according to the Independent.

O’Leary has said that one of the issues with trans-Atlantic flights is the fact that there’s a relative shortage of the planes Ryanair would need to buy. Earlier this month, the website Skift quoted O’Leary as saying that some Middle East airlines — mainly Etihad and Emirates — were buying up so many new airplanes that it has been difficult for other carriers to get them at reasonable prices.

“But the more you look at the backlog of Boeing and Airbus deliveries in long-haul and the crazy scale of the order book they have primarily from the Middle Eastern carriers, I think for the moment, I don’t see there being an opportunity to pick up a fleet at a reasonable pricing,” O’Leary said, according to Skift.

Also, according to Skift, O’Leary signaled that it likely would be a Ryanair subsidiary, and not the main carrier, that operates any overseas flights.

What do you think? Will Ryanair ever fly trans-Atlantic routes? And if it does, will there really be 10 Euro or $10 fares?

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