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Continental Enters LA to Latin America – Is More on the Way?

Starting on July 1, Continental will begin thrice weekly service between LAX and San Salvador, El Salvador. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about a simple route addition like this, but I find myself wondering if this is the beginning of something more.

This particular route is an interesting one. There is a great deal of traffic, and that’s probably why TACA and American both fly it. But why is Continental going in? It’s possible that they see a marginal opportunity and it’s a way to improve utilization, but I’d like to hope that this is the beginning of Continental’s move into an expanded role between LA and Latin America.

United used to serve the San Salvador route from LA, but they pulled out within the last couple years. Continental has a strong presence in Latin America, but ever since the airline packed up its headquarters and left LA for Houston more than 20 years ago, it hasn’t had much of a presence in LA at all. So the route may or may not have been on their radar before (they’ve tried limited Mexico night flights from LAX in the past), but now with Continental joining the Star Alliance and becoming a tight partner with United, could this be recognition of a greater opportunity?

It always surprised me that United never really tried to penetrate the LA to Mexico business markets. That’s Continental’s specialty out of Houston. So now if we combine Continental’s Latin experience and capabilities with United’s strong LA presence and feed, I’d like to think that Continental may see a golden opportunity.

Do I know anything in particular about this? Absolutely not. But it makes a lot of sense. It would be great to see someone try to tap into that market.

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