American is building up at LAX, while United is retrenching. Photo: American.
American Airlines will lease four gates and related counter and office space from United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport starting in the third quarter of 2014, officials confirmed Tuesday.
American is picking up four gates at Terminal 6. The gates were formerly used by Continental Airlines, before it merged with United. The new combined United Airlines has been using them for several years.
When American picks up the gates, it will operate about 180 daily departures to 55 destinations from 28 gates, airline spokesman Andrew Christie told me. (Ned Russell of Flight Global points out that 10 of these gates are used by American Eagle, so American will have only 18 mainline gates under the new arrangement — still not a lot in relative terms.)
Christie wasn’t sure, but I believe the gates being transferred are 60-63. There is a United Club nearby, but Christie said American may not take it over.
“Working in a capacity constrained airport can be challenging,” Christie said. “With the agreement with United for the additional space we will be able to improve our customer service there and provide the customers with a better travel experience.”
This is not a perfect situation. American will now have gates that are literally all over the airport, and there will be no great way for passengers to transfer among them.
Here’s what American will have soon:
- American is the exclusive carrier in Terminal 4. That will remain its base.
- American operates American Eagle flights from a commuter terminal. The terminal is accessible by bus from the main American terminal. This will not change.
- US Airways, an American Airlines Group company, operates from Gates 30, 31A, 31B in Terminal 3. Passengers connecting to other American Airlines flights will have to continue to take a bus from these gates to their connecting flights. Christie said eventually American may stop using these gates.
- American will have four gates in Terminal 6, subleased from United. There is a tunnel inside security– it has long been closed but should reopen — that connects Terminal 4 to Terminal 6. It is a long walk, however. Passengers must walk through Delta’s terminal.
- American will eventually operate many of its international flights from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The international terminal will be connected to Terminal 4 via a walkway now under construction.
- At busy times, some American flights use what are called “remote” gates on the western edge of the airport. Travelers then must take a bus to Terminal 4. These gates may continue to be used.
I expect United to slightly trim its schedule to make up for the loss of four gates. United confirmed to me that Portland and San Jose will be cut Sept. 20. Both are operated by Skywest Airlines as United Express. “The flights weren’t meeting our expectations,” United spokeswoman Mary Clark said.
The internet says United is also axing its L.A. to Kelowna (British Columbia) flight, also operated by Skywest.
United will retrench in its Terminals 7 and 8. Los Angeles World Airports is planning a $400 million renovation of United’s operation at LAX.
Meanwhile, in what American’s Christie deemed a “separate transaction,” US Airways is returning to United two gates that it had leased in Terminal 2 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.