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Foreign flights flock to Los Angeles as dollar devaluates
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09:02, April 01, 2008

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Foreign airlines are turning to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with more flights as an ever-weakening U.S. dollar fuels demand from travelers overseas, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Although frequent-flier surveys often rank LAX among the worst in the U.S. because of its crowded, aging terminals, international flights are being added by different airlines for more overseas travelers looking to take advantage of the weak dollar, according to the report.

Eight carriers have started or announced new international service to LAX since October, including Air France's non-stop service to London starting Monday, the first non-stop flights to Rome by Alitalia Airlines beginning in June, and a planned second daily non-stop flight to Beijing by Air China this summer.

"It seems the marketplace is being somewhat forgiving of our infrastructure shortcomings," the report quoted the airport's deputy executive director Paul Haney as saying.

Haney said that he hadn't seen so many new international flights being added at the airport in at least a decade.

The international boom is helping the Los Angeles airport fend off competition from San Francisco, where a spacious international terminal has been recently built, and resurrect passenger traffic that slid sharply after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the report said.

LAX officials forecast that the number of international passengers this year will be in the range of pre-9/11 levels. The number of international passengers was up more than 8 percent in January and nearly 11 percent in February.

The new flights are expected to significantly benefit the Los Angeles area's economy. Local officials estimate that one daily transpacific or transatlantic flight on a wide-body jet pumps about 620 million dollars annually to the local economy.

In all, LAX is expected to add about a dozen new long-haul flights that could pump more than 7 billion dollars into the local economy, the newspaper said.


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