United Airlines cuts 17 domestic routes in latest network shake-up

Feb 28, 2022

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Small regional airports continue to bear the brunt of airline pandemic-era network adjustments.

The latest move comes from United Airlines, which is dropping 17 domestic routes — including one U.S. city — from its route map, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by the airline.

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United will stop serving the following 17 routes, with the full details available in the chart below.

Origin Destination Operating airline Aircraft
Denver (DEN) Dayton, Ohio (DAY) SkyWest Airlines Embraer 175
Newark (EWR) Oklahoma City (OKC) Republic Airways Embraer 170
Newark (EWR) Omaha (OMA) Republic Airways Embraer 170
Newark (EWR) Knoxville, Tennessee (TYS) GoJet Airlines CRJ-550
Washington Dulles (IAD) Allentown, Pennsylvania (ABE) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Washington Dulles (IAD) Lexington, Kentucky (LEX) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Washington Dulles (IAD) Madison, Wisconsin (MSN) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Washington Dulles (IAD) Oklahoma City (OKC) Mesa Airlines Embraer 175
Washington Dulles (IAD) Pensacola, Florida (PNS) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Houston (IAH) Alexandria, Louisiana (AEX) Mix of CommutAir and SkyWest Airlines Embraer 145 and CRJ-200
Houston (IAH) Columbia, South Carolina (CAE) CommutAir Embraer 145
Houston (IAH) Akron-Canton, Ohio (CAK) Mesa Airlines Embraer 175
Chicago (ORD) Bismarck, North Dakota (BIS) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Chicago (ORD) Charlottesville, Virginia (CHO) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Chicago (ORD) Jackson, Mississippi (JAN) Air Wisconsin CRJ-200
Chicago (ORD) Pasco-Tri Cities, Washington (PSC) SkyWest Airlines Embraer 175
Chicago (ORD) Redmond, Oregon (RDM) SkyWest Airlines Embraer 175

The Chicago-based carrier confirmed the cuts to TPG on Sunday afternoon with the following statement:

United makes regular adjustments to its schedule in response to market demand and staffing resources to ensure we can best serve our customers.

Many of the routes getting cut were already suspended during the pandemic, with plans to restart service in those markets this summer. However, with the latest schedule update, they’re now gone from the airline’s timetable and will be cut until further notice.

(Map of United’s 17 route cuts courtesy of Cirium)

Interestingly, every route getting cut involves one of the airline’s regional affiliate carriers.

United has taken an aggressive approach to trimming unprofitable routes and paring back service to smaller airports as it rebuilds its network from the pandemic.

Late last year, the airline confirmed that it’s pulling out of 11 small U.S. cities, ceding the traffic to its competitors. This includes airports like Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan (AZO), and Evansville, Indiana (EVV).

With this latest move, United is only pulling out of one city — Alexandria, Louisiana (AEX) on June 2— while it pares back service in the 16 other markets. The airline will continue serving the remaining airports from other hubs.

Many regional airports don’t have the demand to warrant service right now, especially with the staffing shortages that airlines are facing.

In a recent interview with TPG, United CEO Scott Kirby commented on the future of 50-seat regional jets. His perspective was that there may not be a future for serving some small markets due to unfavorable economics compounded by pilot shortages, which recently caused the airline to ground nearly 100 regional jets.

“We’re still debating what the long-term future of 50 seaters really is,” Kirby said. “The challenge is, do you want to serve places like Erie, Pennsylvania, at all, or Cody, Wyoming, or do those places just get cut off of the connectivity to the world?”

In late December, United dropped 14 regional markets from its Washington Dulles (IAD) hub, citing pilot shortages as the reason.

Additional reporting by David Slotnick and Ethan Klapper of TPG.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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