Alitalia Airlines will begin nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Rome five times a week in June, the only nonstop service between California and Italy, said city and airport officials.

The announcement is another example of a recent trend among international carriers that are choosing LAX as their West Coast gateway, adding to the billions of dollars in economic activity generated in Southern California by overseas flights of wide-body aircraft, officials said.

“I am pleased that Alitalia has chosen LAX as its U.S. West Coast gateway,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “The opening of the nonstop route between LAX and Rome will strengthen business, tourism and cultural ties with one of the most desirable cities in Europe, while providing improved connecting service to more southern European destinations.”

Alitalia is the sixth carrier to begin or announce new transoceanic international service to Los Angeles since October. This continues a recent trend toward increased international air travel at LAX, which had consistently lost market share in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 tragedies, and solidifies the airport’s position as the leading international gateway on the West Coast, airport officials said.

The six carriers are adding 86 arrivals and departures with nearly 26,500 seats per week at LAX, with an estimated economic impact of $3.8 billion. The new service will sustain more than 19,000 jobs paying wages totaling $957 million, airport officials said.

According to a study released last year by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, one average daily, round-trip, transoceanic flight of wide-body aircraft from LAX gener- ated $623 million in economic output, and sustained 3,120 direct and indirect jobs in Southern California and $156 million in wages.

In 2006, international overseas flights at LAX, including airport operations, visitor spending, and cargo services, generated more than $82 billion in total economic output in Southern California. The flights sustained 362,700 direct and indirect jobs with more than $19 billion in wages, according to officials.

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