United is adding 2 brand-new destinations to its route map

Jun 22, 2021

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Two regional airports are big winners in United Airlines’ latest route-map adjustment

In a move to boost its flying to outdoor-friendly destinations, United will launch flights to the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport near Bishop, California (BIH), from three of its hubs: Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), according to Cirium schedules and confirmed by the carrier to TPG.

This will mark the first commercial service that the airport has seen this century. Seasonal service to Bishop will commence on Dec. 16, 2021, and run through March 26, 2022.

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Each of the three routes will operate daily through the winter season. United is tapping its regional partner SkyWest Airlines to operate these routes using a 70-seat CRJ-700 regional jet.

Service to Bishop will replace the carrier’s suspended service to Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH), which — according to the carrier — will no longer support commercial air service. Going forward, flyers headed to Mammoth will need to route through Bishop.

United will also add a second new airport to its network: Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport in Lewiston, Idaho (LWS). This Idahoan airport will be served with daily, year-round flights from Denver beginning on Oct. 5. The flight will mark the airport’s second commercial service, joining Delta’s existing nonstop from Salt Lake City.

United Express partner SkyWest Airlines will fly the route using a 50-seat CRJ-200 outfitted in an all-coach 2-2 configuration.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

For United, both airports are new destinations. Cirium schedules, which go back to 2003, show that the Chicago-based carrier hasn’t served either destination in at least 18 years.

The move to boost flights to airports near outdoor activities aligns with the carrier’s pandemic-era network strategy.

Bishop, located in California’s Eastern Sierra region, is within close proximity to the Mammoth ski area, a major skiing and snowboarding destination, which is roughly an hour-long drive from BIH. Just note that, for now, BIH appears to have very limited passenger services. There currently aren’t any car rental agencies at the airport, for example, though there are off-airport locations several miles away.

While United is adding flights to Bishop, it’s dropping service to MMH, the airport of choice for skiers and snowboarders heading to Mammoth due to its close proximity to the mountain.

United confirmed to TPG that the more convenient MMH airport will no longer support commercial operations, and local reports offer insights as to why. Residents and visitors have been displeased with the poor reliability at the Mammoth airport. In December 2019, the Mammoth Yosemite Airport saw eight out of a total of thirty-one flights from Los Angeles canceled, Mammoth Lakes Tourism Director John Urdi said to The Sheet of Mammoth Lakes.

The move to Bishop would reportedly create more reliable and consistent commercial options for residents and visitors, local officials told KRSW-FM radio of Bishop.

Related: United bets big on winter travel in 39-route boost to the mountains

As for the Lewiston flight, United told TPG that the service would complement “the airline’s extensive lineup of routes to popular outdoor recreation destinations.” There are recreational areas, state parks, vineyards and other attractions near this city that sits along Idaho’s border with Washington. Lewiston will be United’s fifth route to Idaho, joining service to Boise, Idaho Falls, Sun Valley and Twin Falls.

While this flight is a notable boost for United’s network, it also underscores the importance of Denver as the airline’s fastest-growing hub

In January 2020, United outlined plans to grow its Denver hub to more than 700 daily departures by 2025. That was pre-pandemic, of course. But if United returns to that trajectory after the COVID-19 crisis eases, it would give the airline its busiest schedule ever there —and potentially enough to make the Mile High City the second-busiest on its route map.

Tuesday’s route-map shake-up comes on the heels of a similar move made by the carrier earlier this month. In early June, United boosted 39 routes to mountain destinations for the winter season.

Combined with the airline’s two new destinations, it’s clear that United’s domestic network strategy for this coming winter includes adding and beefing up service to numerous destinations known for their world-class winter sports.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

 

 

 

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