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United cuts 12 routes, drops 4 US cities in latest network adjustment

Sept. 30, 2022
5 min read
United cuts 12 routes, drops 4 US cities in latest network adjustment
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United Airlines is making some notable adjustments to its route network.

The Chicago-based carrier is cutting 12 routes and pulling out of four U.S. cities, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

Perhaps the hardest hit are United's California hubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each city is losing four routes, as you can see in the table below. Most of the L.A. routes that are getting cut are to smaller cities, while some of the routes from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) are to larger domestic cities, such as Detroit and St. Louis.

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CIRIUM

Just one international route is getting dropped as part of the airline's most recent schedule adjustment: Houston to Edmonton International Airport (YEG) in Canada.

Interestingly, United is cutting a route between its hub in Newark and Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA). The airport, located in Bentonville, Arkansas, is home to Walmart's global headquarters and has historically been a business route for United in years past.

United carried roughly 36 passengers per day on the Newark to Bentonville route in 2019, with gross fares averaging $331 each, Department of Transportation data evaluated by Cirium shows. United Express affiliates operated a mix of roughly 70-seat Embraer regional jets throughout 2019.

By pulling out of the market, it's possible that United isn't seeing as much of a rebound in corporate travel demand as it may have originally predicted a few months ago. In fact, United has even flown its premium-heavy CRJ550 regional jet on routes to Bentonville in the past.

Bentonville will continue to be served from the New York City area by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines with flights from LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

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Many of the routes that United is cutting were previously suspended in prior months due to low demand associated with the pandemic. However, the carrier had originally planned to bring them all back by next summer.

But now, it appears that the airline has reevaluated the data and determined that there isn't enough demand to warrant flying these 12 routes. By removing flights from all future schedules, United is extending the suspensions indefinitely.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

It's worth noting that United will continue to serve all 12 of the affected outstations from other domestic hubs, so loyal flyers can always opt for one-stop service to these airports.

That said, four U.S. cities are losing United service entirely later this year, including:

  • Clarksburg, West Virginia (ends Nov. 30).
  • Lewisburg, West Virginia (ends Oct. 31).
  • West Paducah, Kentucky (ends Dec. 6).
  • Weyers Cave (Shenandoah Valley), Virginia (ends Oct. 31).

For aviation observers, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that United and its regional partner Skywest Airlines are dropping these cities. Skywest had already warned back in March that it would be forced to pull out of up to 29 cities, including the four aforementioned ones, due to the pilot shortage.

Service to these cities is subsidized under the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which is a federal government program that subsidizes air service to small communities where service might not otherwise be viable. Contracts are bid on by different carriers and awarded by the Department of Transportation, which administers the EAS program.

When United Express partner Skywest stops serving these cities, Contour Airlines will pick up service in each of the four markets with flights to Charlotte.

Though Contour isn't officially an American Airlines regional affiliate, it will sell these tickets through AA's website via an existing interline agreement. So, in a roundabout way, American's regional connectivity will grow as part of the move.

Of all the U.S. airlines, United has been one of the most aggressive about pulling out of unprofitable cities amid a nationwide pilot shortage. The airline has dropped service to over 25 cities, as it looks to balance supply (airplanes and pilots) with demand (ticket sales).

United's 12 route cuts

OriginDestination
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
LAXDane County Regional Airport (MSN)
LAXEugene Airport (EUG)
LAXRogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA)
O'Hare International Airport (ORD)Eugene Airport (EUG)
ORDSanta Barbara Airport (SBA)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)Dane County Regional Airport (MSN)
SFODetroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
SFOSt. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
SFOWill Rogers World Airport (OKC)
Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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