UPDATED: United Airlines reinstates 6 long-haul routes to latest coronavirus cuts
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: the story has been updated to reflect a revision by United to its schedule since it initially unveiled plans to suspend all long-haul international flying on Friday.
United Airlines will operate just six long-haul routes through at least May, moving to keep some international connectivity after earlier plans to cut its entire intercontinental network amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Star Alliance carrier will operate just one daily flight on six routes from its Houston (IAH), Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) hubs from the end of March until at least May, United said Saturday. The routes are:
- Houston – São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU)
- Newark – Frankfurt (FRA), London Heathrow (LHR) and Tel Aviv (TLV)
- San Francisco – Sydney (SYD) and Tokyo Narita (NRT)
The routes will operate under a 90% reduction in United’s international capacity through April. Other remaining international services include a “small number of daytime flights” to Mexico, as well as some routes on the carrier’s island-hopper schedule from Guam.
The schedule is a revision to plans unveiled Friday for United to suspend 95% of its international capacity, including all long-haul international flying.
United’s latest long-haul reductions came hours after CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby, as well as the leaders of the airlines’ labor unions, told employees in a letter that “even more cost-cutting measures will be required soon to keep our company afloat.”
“We continue to be among the most severely affected by the economic impact of this crisis, due to the outbreak’s breathtaking effect on travel demand,” they said. The airline has cut system capacity by at least 60% in April and May.
United is not alone slashing international capacity as the COVID-19 crisis continues. American Airlines is suspending all but three long-haul routes to London and Tokyo, and keeping some flights to the Caribbean and Mexico. Delta Air Lines is keeping the most international routes, including destinations on five continents, even as it winds down 70% of its operation.
However, the crisis is remains dynamic and further cuts by airlines are likely.
The U.S. government has warned American citizens from traveling abroad, issuing a “do not travel” advisory on Thursday. In addition, it is closing both the Canadian and Mexico borders to all but cargo and essential travel to slow the spread of COVID-19.
United’s latest cuts will see its route map temporarily return to a nearly all-domestic state unseen since the early 1980s. The airline lacked any long-haul routes until flights to Hong Kong and Tokyo began in 1983, and it only became a major international player when it bought Pan Am’s Pacific operation in 1986.
— Edward Russell (@e_russell) March 21, 2020
Featured image by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.