There’s been a ton of activity up and around Los Angeles lately and its all great news for the airport.
LAX has been able to snare three new long haul services to the airport – two from Asia (unsurprisingly, given that California is the busiest state for traffic to Asia from the US) and one from Europe which will be a new venture for both the airport and the airline.
And while oneworld misses out (Cathay Pacific does serve LA 5x daily after all), SkyTeam and Star Alliance frequent fliers will be leaving happy.
First up on the docket is Vietnam Airlines (VN) – the SkyTeam member is a relatively new player in the long haul market and this will be its first foray into American skies. Given how large the Vietnamese diaspora is in the Southern California area, this makes a safe choice as the airline’s inaugural flight into the continent. Coupled with the new deliveries of A350-900 aircraft the airline is currently receiving, it makes it a viable service to at least try out even if it will end up being a very long flight. Ho Chi Minh City will be the most likely origin airport. At the moment most options to Vietnam are marketed through Taipei and SkyTeam partner China Airlines, so this flight should be a welcome convenient option into IndoChina through VN.
The other addition will be from fellow SkyTeam member Garuda Indonesia (GA) and direct flights from their hub in Jakarta. Indonesia has finally relieved a Category 1 rating from the FAA, meaning that the country’s aviation infrastructure (not GA specifically per se) was previously deemed unsafe but has improved significantly enough to be able to operate direct services into the United States. GA has long sought American rights but were not allowed to do so until just recently. They have announced the resumption of services with once again LAX being preferred as their first point of operations – details will follow soon from the airline, and how closely they will tie up with their partner Delta and their operations out of Southern California for connecting flights across the US.
Finally we have a Star Alliance member opening up LA ops – and for the first time to boot. Austrian Airlines (OS) has announced a seasonal service from Vienna to LAX – given the airline’s reputation for superb catering and excellent service, they will be a good alternative to Europe and a nice niche option to their parent company and behemoth Lufthansa or the often very expensive Swiss. OS will also be very effective in connecting passengers wanting to travel to smaller Eastern European cities as the airline tends to fly to a lot more secondary and tertiary cities in this region given Vienna’s proximity to it.
So LAX really is on a roll. It’s a big score on the airport’s part to land these three flag carriers on long haul services to boot.
Traditionally JFK has been something of America’s “international airport” but LAX is fast catching up. And while it may not be the fortress hubs of San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago or Houston where massive airlines such as United and American have huge operations, they are no slouch themselves and are proving it by the day.