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  • Joe Breitfeller

American Airlines Celebrates 75 Years of Service at Los Angeles International Airport

This week, American Airlines celebrates the 75th anniversary of their first commercial departure from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), then known as Los Angeles Municipal Airport.


First American Airlines crewmembers to land at LAX, from left, First Officer Lawson, Stewardess MacDonald and Capt. Floyd. Photo provided courtesy of LAWA/LAX Flight Path Museum - Courtesy American Airlines

Today (December 10, 2021). American Airlines announced the celebration of their 75th anniversary of service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Known at the time as Los Angeles Municipal Airport, the airfield had been developed more than 20 years before launching commercial service. American Airlines and three other carriers shifted a portion or all of their operations from nearby Burbank Airport to LAX, which was officially renamed in 1949. Interested onlookers celebrated the first departure 75 years ago from a nearby roadway, as well as the first arrival. First Officer Lawson, Stewardess MacDonald and Captain Floyd were surprised to learn that they were the first commercial crew to land after the opening of the field.

In Friday’s announcement, Los Angeles World Airports’ Chief Executive Officer, Justin Erbacci, said,


“For three quarters of a century, American's service at LAX has helped Angelenos reach domestic and international destinations and brought visitors from around the globe to our great city. Our partnership with American has only grown stronger over the decades, as we jointly look toward a future with a fully modernized LAX, which will set new standards for how passengers experience air travel in Los Angeles. We congratulate our partners at American and wish them many more years of success to come.”


Also commenting on American’s 75th anniversary at the airport, American Airlines’ Managing Director of LAX, Lokesh Amaranayaka, said,


“I'm extremely proud to be leading a team that has such a rich history of supporting the Los Angeles community. Every day, our team members come to work focused on caring for people on life's journey. For us here locally, that has been the core of what we've been doing for the last 75 years and will continue as our focus for the foreseeable future.”


Over the years, American has celebrated many firsts and successes for the region beyond the inauguration of countless new destinations from LAX. The airline’s cargo operation, then known as AA Airfreight, helped facilitate the speedy transport of consumer goods from around the world. Starting in August 1947 for the first time, American’s Flagship Mercury delivered newspapers the morning of publication from both the New York Times and the Herald Tribune, with the newspapers then appearing daily at 7:30 a.m. on local California newsstands.


Throughout the 1950s, American continued to increase service to LAX. The carrier advertised as the first choice in transcontinental service aboard their new Douglas DC-7 Flagship aircraft, which started on November 29, 1953. American Airlines’ Flagship Mercury offered the only nonstop service and became known as the finest and fastest way to the West Coast, almost three hours quicker than any other airline serving Los Angeles. At that time, two of the airline’s pilots, Captain Joe Glass and Captain James B. Ingram began setting speed records between New York and Los Angeles.


1954 advertisement promotes faster flights provided on American’s Douglas DC-7 aircraft - Courtesy American Airlines

Actress Lucille Ball celebrates the commissioning of the American Airlines Astroway - Courtesy American Airlines

As the airline began serving the Hollywood entertainment community, welcoming entertainment’s leading actresses and actors onboard, American had several cameo appearances in film history. Singer Dorothy Shay received a lesson in basic aerodynamics in “The Park Avenue Hilly Billy” and Lucille Ball, star of the “I Love Lucy” television show, aided American’s commission of Terminal 4 at LAX and the American Airlines Astroway, which was the airport’s first moving walkway. Opened in 1963, the underground moving walkway connected the ticket counter building to the satellite terminal where American operated. American began construction to connect the two buildings above ground in the 1980s.

American’s LAX operation has grown to span a portion of Terminal 5, the airline’s remote regional terminal, select gates in the Tom Brady International Terminal, and all of current-day Terminal 4. Moving forward, American Airlines is building a “terminal for tomorrow”, a multi-year commitment to modernize their LAX hub. The new state-of-the-art facility will have more efficient check-in and security checkpoints to reduce wait times and lessened roadway congestion with a connection to the Automated People Mover train system. The facility will also have modern and varied seating, more concessions and easily accessible power outlets at the gates. Additionally, the new departure halls will be spacious and include modern signage, making it easier for travelers to navigate the facility.


American Airlines' LAX Terminal 4 will soon be renovated to offer customers more modern amenities - Courtesy American Airlines

American Airlines’ purpose is to “care for people on life’s journey.” Shares in the American Airlines Group, Inc., trade on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol AAL and the company’s stock is included in the S&P 500.



Source: American Airlines