Chris Sloan of The Points Guy recently sat down with two United Airlines leaders. Comments on the Los Angeles hub caught my attention.
Sloan interviewed Greg Hart, United’s chief operations officer, and Andrew Nocella, United’s chief commercial officer. During the conversation, the topic of United’s LAX hub arose. Los Angeles is losing its nonstop flight to Singapore next month and has fallen behind Delta and American as LAX’s #3 carrier.
First, Nocella hinted that the Singapore flight may return and that United does “well” out of LAX:
As we looked at Singapore, we felt like the second flight out of San Francisco at this particular moment in time was the better choice for that asset. That’s not to say we won’t ever fly LA to Singapore again. Quite frankly, we fly many other international routes out of LA, and we do well out of Los Angeles in total.
But he blamed space constraints at LAX as limited growth.
We basically fully utilize our gate facilities at the airport. It’s not that we don’t want to grow. It’s that the facility footprint we have today … is full. So our footprint is just slightly smaller than some of our competitors, and therefore our operation is slightly smaller. That’s the output of all kinds of things that have happened over decades.
Of course using a gate for a 787-9 to Melbourne or a CRJ-200 to Colorado Springs are two different things. United is in fact utilizing its gates at LAX right now (and regrets selling its stake in Terminal 6), but LAX could easily grow through larger aircraft.
At least he affirmed:
It’s a race that we’re in and not going to be giving up on… I believe in Los Angeles. I think I’ve proven that time and time again. We’ve grown the operation considerably in Los Angeles over the last 12 months.
I haven’t seen the considerable growth, but I am thankful that United continues to affirm its commit to Los Angeles. I also recognize United’s investment in premium ground services at LAX.
The whole interview is worth a read. There are other nuggets explored like terminal upgrades at Washington Dulles, returning to JFK, and United’s new premium economy product. I’m further convinced United is not abandoning LAX.