American Airlines will open a base for Minneapolis-based regional carrier Compass Airlines Embraer E-175 aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport. Initial routes will be to Denver and Houston beginning March 29, an airline spokeswoman confirmed Monday.
American has assigned 20 of its new E-175s to Compass, and more routes from Los Angeles should be announced as the regional airline takes delivery of more aircraft. As Compass takes over more Los Angeles routes, Mesa Airlines will do more flying as American Eagle from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, American spokeswoman Martha Thomas said. For now, Mesa is one of American’s main regional carriers from Los Angeles, with routes including to Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Jose and Salt Lake City. It flies Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft.
Putting the E-175s in Los Angeles will allow American to compete strongly with Delta Air Lines, which also operates Compass aircraft on important, but thin, routes across the West. As it bids to win lucrative Los Angeles traffic with a strong onboard product, Delta has shifted a number of routes to Compass, including San Francisco, Sacramento, Dallas, Vancouver, Seattle and Austin, Texas. Delta no longer operates single-class regional jets in Los Angeles.
“We did similar things in Miami, shifting Republic there,” Thomas said. “Los Angeles is a market that we know can support that larger, higher-end product.”
Another plus: Compass already operates a base in Los Angeles for Delta, so this would help streamline operations for the regional carrier.
With the exception of Tokyo Haneda, which American hopes to start with a slot now controlled by Delta, American has been quiet about its plans for Los Angeles, but it’s likely these new E-175 aircraft could feed new routes to Asia. American may end up eventually shifting Boeing 787 aircraft to Los Angeles as it seeks to open a transpacific gateway.
American’s Terminal 4 at LAX will soon be connected, inside security, to the airport’s new international terminal, a development that should open new opportunities for the carrier. American is the only US airline with access to four preferential gates at the international terminal, and it plans to take more advantage of that when the airport finishes building the connector building. Construction of that building is now underway.