Foreign airlines cutting flights at LAX

LOS ANGELES There's always a drop in international flights every fall as fewer people travel, but this year the cutbacks are much steeper than expected.

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Beginning this fall, those heading overseas may have a hard time finding a flight at LAX as foreign and U.S. carriers cut routes. In all, at least 11 percent of international flights at LAX will be cut in November. Airline officials say soaring fuel costs and slowing international demand are to blame.

The drastic drop in foreign flights means passengers will face fewer flight options, higher fares, and packed planes.

Some frequent fliers say they've already noticed the difference, especially when it comes to the cost of their tickets.

"I think [it's] because of the gas price," said Antonio Tammeo. "I just came back from Italy. I purchased this ticket for $1,300 and usually it's like $900, $1,000."

"I notice that every single flight is always full, wherever we go," said one traveler, who did give their name.

"We're going to Cabo San Lucas - we go every year - and usually we pay about $250 roundtrip per person. And this year we're up to $550 a person," said another traveler, who did give their name.

Major carriers like Air India, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Air Lingus plan to eliminate some key routes to stay as cost effective as possible.

However, Emirates Airlines and Vietnam Airlines have announced plans to start new service at LAX this fall. This certainly will help but it's not going to be enough to offset the dramatic cuts to international flights by other foreign and U.S. carriers.

The international cutbacks came as a surprise to many. Analysts say it could have a major impact on the local economy. One study estimates that each daily trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flight brings in nearly $620 million a year.

"You won't have people coming in, they won't be shopping, doing business," said economist Jack Kyser. "It'll hurt, especially in the second half of the year."

The drop in flights will also have a major impact on LAX's bottom line as the airport is in the midst of multi-million dollar renovations at the Tom Bradley international terminal.


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