United Airlines trims Hong Kong-New York schedule this winter

Nov 26, 2019

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United Airlines will reduce its exposure to the weak Hong Kong market by temporarily cutting some flights from the New York City area this winter.

The Star Alliance carrier will only fly between Newark (EWR) and Hong Kong (HKG) three-days-a-week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Jan. 12 to March 27, United told employees in a newsletter Monday. It will continue to offer twice-daily service between San Francisco (SFO) and Hong Kong.

The changes were to “better match capacity to customer demand” in the “current environment,” the airline said. Hong Kong faces unrest as citizens continue to protest Chinese rule of the special administrative region.

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United’s decision to temporarily reduce the number flights between Hong Kong and Newark follows two previous capacity reductions in response to demand. The airline will shift all of its flights to the city to smaller Boeing 777-200 aircraft that have about a fifth fewer seats than the 777-300ERs they replace in December. And, in September, United indefinitely suspended service between Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Hong Kong.

“We’re skating to where the puck is going, not where the puck has been,” United’s vice-president of international network Patrick Quayle told TPG in September on the airline’s ability to quickly adjust schedules in response to demand.

Related: United Airlines touts ‘nimbleness’ in winter schedule adjustments

Separately from Hong Kong, United will also reduce frequency to Melbourne (MEL) in Australia next summer. The carrier will reduce its daily service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Melbourne to four-times weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from March 28 to Oct. 22.

United plans to grow system capacity by 4-6% year-over-year in 2020, with the final amount dependent on when the Boeing 737 MAX returns to service. Planned additions include four new routes to Tokyo Haneda (HND), and a new shuttle-like service between Newark and Washington National (DCA).

Featured image by Marcio Rodrigo Machado/S3studioGetty Images.

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