SOURCE: Los Angeles World Airports

February 21, 2008 16:11 ET

Alitalia to Fly LAX-Rome Beginning in June - New International Routes to LAX Generate Billions for Southern California Economy

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - February 21, 2008) - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today cheered the announcement that Alitalia Airlines will fly non-stop from Los Angeles International Airport to Rome five times a week beginning in June, the only non-stop service between California and Italy. The announcement is another example of a recent trend among international carriers that are choosing LAX as their West Coast gateway, adding to the billions of dollars in economic activity generated in Southern California by overseas flights of wide-body aircraft.

"I am pleased that Alitalia has chosen LAX as its U.S. West Coast gateway. The opening of the non-stop route between LAX and Rome will strengthen business, tourism and cultural ties with one of the most desirable cities in Europe, while providing improved connecting service to more southern European destinations," Mayor Villaraigosa said.

"Gaining new and increased international service at LAX and LA/Ontario International is a top priority for my Administration because of the substantial contribution these flights make to the economy of Southern California. Alitalia's new non-stop service to Rome is a prime example of the type of air service we want to attract to our airports."

Alitalia is the sixth carrier to begin or announce new transoceanic international service to Los Angeles since October. This continues a recent trend toward increased international air travel at LAX, which had consistently lost market share in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and solidifies the airport's position as the leading international gateway on the West Coast.

In total, the six carriers are adding 86 arrivals and departures with nearly 26,500 seats per week at LAX, with an estimated economic impact of $3.8 billion. The new service will sustain more than 19,000 jobs paying wages totaling $957 million.

Other new or recently announced international service at LAX includes:

--  Air France, seven round-trips per week to London beginning March 30
    under the new open skies agreement between the United States and European
    Union
    
--  EVA Air, three additional round-trips per week to Taipei via Osaka
    beginning March 30
    
--  United Airlines, seven round-trips per week to Frankfurt, which began
    in December
    
--  United Airlines, seven round-trips per week to Hong Kong, which began
    in October
    
--  British Airways, seven additional round-trips per week to London
    beginning in April 2007
    
--  Air China, seven additional round-trips per week to Beijing beginning
    in summer 2009
    

According to a study released last year by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, one average daily, round-trip, transoceanic flight of wide-body aircraft from LAX generated $623 million in economic output, and sustained 3,120 direct and indirect jobs in Southern California and $156 million in wages.

In 2006, international overseas flights at LAX, including airport operations, visitor spending, and cargo services, generated more than $82 billion in total economic output in Southern California. They sustained 362,700 direct and indirect jobs with more than $19 billion in wages.

Mayor Villaraigosa pointed to several capital improvement initiatives undertaken during his Administration that are helping to attract international carriers to LAX including:

--  The $723 million renovation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal
    with a $140 million in-line baggage security screening system
    
--  Construction of a new midfield concourse designed to relieve
    congestion at existing LAX terminals
    
--  The $333 million southern airfield improvement project designed to
    increase airfield safety by the relocation of the airport's southern most
    runway and construction of a center taxiway
    

Mayor Villaraigosa also expressed confidence that each announcement of new international service will stimulate new service and provide further benefits to passengers.