Air Transport World

At the top of the heap. (Los Angeles International Airport)

Los Angeles International is the No. 1 U.S.-Asia/Pacific hub and Airline Enemy No. I because of its fund-diversion efforts

Los Angeles International Airport is at or near the top of many lists: Pioneer in dealing with noise, No. 1 U.S. hub for Asia/Pacific routes, the world's fifth-biggest passenger generator and third-biggest cargo generator, and a highly enthusiastic supporter of privatization. Oh, yes, and LAX also is at the top of the airlines' "enemies list" because its owner, the city of Los Angeles, wants to use some airport revenues for nonairport purposes.

Revenue debate notwithstanding, LAX is the place to be for airlines wanting to participate in the "Pacific Century." The Asia/Pacific region's past, current and future traffic demand is attracting more airlines that want more U.S.-Asia/Pacific service. Increasingly, that service has meant LAX, which has outdistanced rival San Francisco International--it boarded 6.5 million international passengers to SFO's 2.7 million in 1994. SFO's proximity to North Pacific routes, meaning mostly Japan and Korea, gave it a head start on Asian flights that it has not managed to retain. Now, says Philip Depoian, deputy executive director of the LA Dept. of Airports, "all the lines on tile route map are coming to LAX for all of the U.S. and Asia."

Depoian is quick to point out that Asia/Pacific is not LAX's only focus. California's geography and large Hispanic community mean LAX is interested in and well-fixed to serve the burgeoning Latin American economies, too. The combination of Asia/Pacific and Latin traffic eventually will help make international traffic equal to domestic, he predicts.

A photo of LAX in 1929, when it was called Mines Field, shows a sleepy little facility with a Spanish-style office tower in the middle. No more. While some of the original site still exists as a historical landmark, IAX today covers 3,550 acres and has four runways plus eight passenger terminals connected by a U-shaped, 2-level roadway. The airport accounts for 700,000 aircraft movements annually, reason enough for opening a new control tower this year.

And 10 years after major construction geared to the 1984 Olympics, LAX is developing a new master plan designed to take it to 2015. …

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