Continuing its build-up at Los Angeles International Airport, Delta Air Lines announced Thursday it will start hourly service to San Francisco International Airport beginning Sept. 3.
Delta is branding the flight as a shuttle and will offer passengers free wine and beer, as well as snacks and newspapers. It's a similar service to what the carrier has on flights from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Washington, D.C., Boston and Chicago.
With the increase, Delta will go from 11 daily flights to 14 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Aviation analysts say the flights, which will leave both cities on the hour during weekdays, are timed to attract business travelers.
"They have an experience with the shuttle in the Northeast," said Brett Snyder, a Long Beach-based aviation analyst who runs the website crankyflier.com. "They think if they can duplicate it on the West Coast, that's what people want. I'm not convinced of that. But it's a strong branding message and it's something they can pitch to their corporate accounts."
The route will be flown by Delta Connection partner Compass Airlines. Compass will be using the roomiest of regional jets -- the E-175, with 12 seats in first class, 12 in premium economy and 52 in economy.
The Los Angeles-to-San Francisco route is among the most competitive in the world. In addition to Delta, Southwest, American, United and Virgin America fly the route. United, which has hubs at LAX and SFO, has 15 flights between the cities on most days, tops of any carrier.
United's flights do not leave on the hour and are not branded as a shuttle, though that could change if the airline deems it necessary for competitive reasons.
Delta, which now operates as many as 115 daily departures from LAX, is in the midst of an expansion at the airport. Last week, it announced it will soon add additional flights to New Orleans, Kansas City and Indianapolis, among other cities.
Delta and Los Angeles World Airports also are teaming up on a more than $200 million renovation of the carrier's Terminal 5 at LAX.