Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. It is most often referred to by its IATA airport code LAX, with the letters pronounced individually. LAX is located in southwestern Los Angeles along the Pacific coast in the neighborhood of Westchester, 16 miles (26 km) from Downtown Los Angeles. It is owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, an agency of the Los Angeles city government formerly known as the Department of Airports.
In 2012, LAX was the sixth busiest airport in the world by passenger volume with 63,688,121 passengers, an increase of 3% from 2011. The airport holds the claim for "the world’s busiest origin and destination (O & D) airport" in 2011, meaning it had the most non-connecting passengers, and the third busiest in the world by aircraft movements. It is also the only airport to rank among the top five U.S. airports for both passenger and cargo traffic.
LAX is the busiest airport in the Greater Los Angeles Area; however, other airports including Bob Hope Airport, John Wayne Airport, Long Beach Airport, and LA/Ontario International Airport also serve the region. It is also notable for being one of few U.S. airports with four parallel runways.
LAX serves as a hub for American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, Great Lakes Airlines, and US Airways Express. The airport also serves as a focus city for Southwest Airlines, Virgin America, Allegiant Air, Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Volaris. LAX is the only airport to serve as a hub for all three legacy airlines (American, Delta, and United).
Before the 1930s, existing airports used a two-letter abbreviation based on the weather stations at the airports. At that time, "LA" served as the designation for Los Angeles Airport. But with the rapid growth in the aviation industry the designations expanded to three letters c. 1947, and "LA" became "LAX." The letter "X" has no specific meaning in this identifier. "LAX" is also used for the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro and by Amtrak for Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
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