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Mayor Villaraigosa's Misguided Strategy for LA Airports

I had the chance to attend the Qantas A380 inaugural event at LAX yesterday, and there were a handful of speakers at the event including CEO Geoff Dixon, Qantas Goodwill Ambassador John Travolta, and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. I was dismayed to hear at the press conference that Mayor Villaraigosa has decided to continue to push his misguided strategy of regionalization for the local airports.

Mayor VillaraigosaFor those who don't know, the Mayor has been pushing the idea that LAX would serve big international and long haul flights while the other airports in the region (ideally, in his eyes I'm sure, LA-operated Ontario and now-empty Palmdale) would host more regional flights. At the press conference, the Mayor continued to push this idea. He said that the A380 was an important step in his plan to "see short haul connecting flights shifting to our regional airports" while the long haul flights would continue to serve LAX.

Can someone please explain to me how someone flying on the A380 from Sydney to LAX is going to connect to their flight to Reno, Albuquerque, El Paso, etc. if it's at an airport 50 miles away? This is why the idea of putting short haul flights at one airport and long flights at another doesn't work. Traditional network airlines work on the hub and spoke model. The basic idea is that if you collect a handful of traffic from several different flights arriving at LAX and combine it with local traffic, you'll have enough traffic to justify running flights to places like Reno. If you take away one of those flights, it means you'll have less traffic coming in and that hurts the potential viability of that flight.

In this case, it would remove all of the potential connecting traffic if you move the "connecting" flight to an airport far away. That just doesn't work. The only flights that can make it at an airport like that are the ones that rely on local traffic, and those are the flights we already see at regional airports. Look at Burbank, Ontario, and Long Beach and you'll see that people do use those airports for regional needs every day. Palmdale just lost its air service because it couldn't support it. Trying to force flights to another airport just because it fits your own plans is a mistake. It will ultimately hurt commercial aviation in Los Angeles.

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