United Airlines joins American in signaling that the summer may not be lost

Jun 4, 2020

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United Airlines is joining joining peers in rolling out a more robust schedule in July, yet another indication that summer holidays may not be lost.

The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier is adding flights across its U.S. domestic network. Key business markets, like its Newark (EWR) hub, will see more flights, but so will less-obvious vacation destinations. Places like Aspen, Colorado (ASE) — near national parks and other outdoor recreation areas — historic Charleston, South Carolina (CHS) and Portland, Maine (PWM), a gateway to the state’s forests and craggy coast.

The additions will see United fly 30% of what it flew a year ago in July, the airline said Thursday. This is better than previous plans to fly a quarter of last year’s schedule and a double-digit improvement over the seats offered for sale its bare-bones schedule in June.

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“I think we can see land but it’s a long way to way and there are a lot of shoals from here to there,” United CEO Scott Kirby said about the recovery during a June 3 virtual staff town hall that was reviewed by TPG. “It’s still a long way away but the fact we can see it is encouraging.”

American Airlines also unveiled a more robust July schedule on Thursday. The carrier will fly about 55% of what it flew in 2019 during the month, with additions focused on some of the same popular leisure destinations as United. It is also adding flights to popular leisure destinations in the south as well as the Rocky Mountains.

Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines also plan to add flights, and discounter Frontier Airlines announced 18 new routes for June and July.

The additions come as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sees steadily increasing number of people coming through airport checkpoints. The agency screened 353,261 people on June 1 — the most since the crisis began in March — though that’s still just 14% of the number screened a year ago.

Related: American to reopen lounges, add flights to Florida, Rockies as flyers return

In July, United will add flights back at all of seven of its domestic U.S. hubs. Chicago O’Hare will see a 25% jump in departures to 260 on peak days compared to June, according to the airline. Denver (DEN) and Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH) will both see comparable increases, with schedules growing to 206 and 210 departures, respectively.

Chicago, Denver and Houston are major connecting complexes on United’s map. They have been the focus of the carrier’s accelerated growth strategy since 2018. As recently as February, United signed a lease to expand its footprint at the Denver airport to 90 gates by 2022.

United hubs in Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Washington Dulles (IAD) will also receive more flights in July.

Related: United Airlines to return to 11 cities in Asia, Europe and South America in July

Below are details of United expanded hub schedule in July, departures are on peak days.

Chicago O’Hare: 260 departures to 133 destinations

Denver: 206 departures to 120 destinations

Houston Intercontinental: 210 departures to 112 destinations

Los Angeles: 43 departures to 26 destinations

Newark: 115 departures to 61 destinations

San Francisco: 116 departures to 65 destinations

Washington Dulles: 124 departures to 74 destinations

Featured image by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.

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