United Airlines is adding 5 new routes to its flight schedule this fall and offering new flights to Alamosa, Colorado and Abilene, Texas, even if the novel coronavirus pandemic is expected to be up to 50% smaller.
The Chicago-based Star Alliance airline will launch a new service between its Denver (DEN) and Alamosa (ALS) hub this September. Rochester, Minnesota (RST); and Sioux City, Iowa (SUX), according to Cirium schedule data.
In addition, United will establish connections between Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and Abilene (ABI) and Chattanooga, Tennessee (CHA).
While United adds a few spokes to its map, Delta Air Lines continues to cut its former base in Cincinnati (CVG). The SkyTeam Alliance airline will end service between Cincinnati and Austin (AUS), a route that has been closed since April, as Cirium shows.
The schedule changes come as both Delta and United head for an autumn that is being challenged by COVID-19.
Both airlines plan to fly significantly less than they did in 2019 as flight schedules have been reduced after no so-called “V-shaped” recovery of the virus occurred in the summer.
The schedule cuts mean fewer staff are required and potential vacation notifications are sent to thousands of employees.
“We expect the rebound in demand will be jagged,” said Scott Kirby, United CEO on July 22nd. something he hopes for by the end of 2021.Advertisement
Data from the Airlines for America (A4A) trading group shows that passenger traffic has fallen by around 60% since the beginning of July compared to 2019.
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But travelers have started returning to places where they can be outside, such as beach and mountain destinations. This has brought numerous air access to places like Aspen, Colorado (ASE) and Bozeman, Montana (BZN) since the beginning of the pandemic.
United’s five new routes will all be flown with Bombardier CRJ200s, which have 50 seats. The Alamosa service is subsidized by the federal government’s EAS (Essential Air Service) program, while the Sioux City route is supported by local funds.
Delta’s move to cut service between Austin and Cincinnati follows decisions to close the flight attendant and pilot base in Cincinnati. The airport was the airline’s main hub in the Midwest prior to its merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008, but has shrunk since then. Delta now counts it neither as a hub nor as a focus city.
Regardless, Alaska Airlines continues to add new routes to its map. The Seattle-based airline will begin daily service between San Diego (SAN) and Santa Barbara (SBA) on November 20. Alaska will operate a 76-seat Embraer E175 on the route.
Alaska, Delta and United plan to be significantly smaller this fall than 2019. While flight schedules are not final after September, Alaska plans to fly more than 60% of flights flown in North America in the same month of last year. According to Cirium data, Delta wants to fly around 58% and United around 41%.
Delta and United spokesmen were not immediately available to comment.
Below are details of United’s new routes this fall.
- Alamosa: up to twice daily flights beginning Oct. 1
- Rochester: daily flights beginning Oct. 1
- Sioux City: daily flights beginning Oct. 14
- Abilene: twice daily flights beginning Oct. 21
- Chattanooga: daily flights beginning Oct. 1