Legend has Big Apple in its eye

Tuesday, June 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Start-up carrier plans to begin LaGuardia service in September

Start-up carrier Legend Airlines Inc. plans to begin flying to the Big Apple from Dallas in September, targeting one of the largest markets for its chief rival, American Airlines Inc.

Starting Sept. 6, Dallas-based Legend will offer four daily nonstop, round-trip flights to New York's LaGuardia Airport from Dallas Love Field.

This will be the fourth destination for the fledgling airline, which two months ago began the first long-haul flights from Love Field in more than a quarter century.

American currently offers 24 nonstop daily flights to LaGuardia from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The Fort Worth-based carrier currently dominates the market from D/FW-New York/Newark, with a share of 63.9 percent.

American's flights from D/FW to New York and Newark, N.J., generate $312,355 in daily revenue, according to figures compiled for Aviation Daily, an industry trade publication.

For American, these receipts are second only to the $429,169 in daily revenue it yields from flights between Los Angeles and the New York/Newark area, the figures show.

The volume of daily passengers is also significant: American shuttles more travelers between New York/Newark and D/FW than it does on all but three other routes, according to Aviation Daily.

Legend recently received 18 slots, or takeoff and landing rights, at LaGuardia, one of four airports where slots are tightly controlled. Those slots equal nine round trips, giving the carrier room to expand its New York service.

"We'll start with several round trips and grow into more next year," said a tuxedo-clad T. Allan McArtor, Legend's chief executive and president.

Standing before a replica of the Statue of Liberty and a city skyline, he belted out "New York, New York" to a recording by Frank Sinatra before making the announcement.

At Love Field, privately financed Legend directly competes against American on the Dallas-Los Angeles route.

Legend also flies to Las Vegas and Washington Dulles International Airport, and American also serves Chicago.

Legend offers all-first-class service at full-fare and discount coach prices. It is aimed at last-minute business travelers, who pay high fares to fly at a moment's notice.

To compete with Legend, American began offering similar service from Love Field in early May.

Legend currently operates a fleet of four McDonnell Douglas DC-9s equipped with 56 seats, the maximum number of passengers permitted by federal law for long-haul flights from Love Field.

The carrier expects to add three planes by the time it starts service to New York.

Although Legend recently was awarded the right to operate two round-trip flights from Dallas to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the carrier has not decided when it will start flying to the Windy City, Mr. McArtor said. It is waiting to see whether it will receive any slots at Washington Reagan National Airport in Washington.

"You can bet that we'll be there [Chicago] before too long," Mr. McArtor said.