United Airlines is adding 22 new domestic routes in 2019 as it continues its robust domestic expansion. At the same time, it is retreating from a pair of routes from Los Angeles that face fierce competition plus a surprising international route.
I’ve written before about United’s push to recapture its “natural share” of the domestic market. I’ve also written about United’s plan to funnel connecting traffic through Washington Dulles and focus on origin-destination traffic out of Newark.
To that end, United will add the following new flights in 2019:
- Chicago O’Hare
- Hilton Head (twice weekly, begins 06 April 2019, E170)
- Los Angeles
- Eugene (twice daily, begins 31 March 2019, CRJ700/E175)
- Madison (daily, begins 31 March 2019, E175)
- Pasco, WA (daily, begins 31 March 2019, E175)
- Hilton Head (Saturday, begins 06 April 2019, E170)
- Pensacola (daily, begins 06 June 2019, E170)
- San Francisco
- Columbus (daily, begins 06 June 2019, A319)
- Washington Dulles
- Asheville (twice daily, begins 14 February 2019, CRJ200)
- Elmira (twice daily, begins 31 March 2019, CRJ200)
- Hilton Head (twice daily, 31 March 2019, E175)
- Lexington, KY (twice daily, 14 February 2019, CRJ200/CRJ700)
You can see that all but one of these new routes will be operated by regional jets, but most are larger regional jets with first class and Economy Plus that are arguably just as comfortable (if not more) than mainline.
Cutbacks + The Los Angeles Dilemma
Although Los Angeles will see new service to Eugene, Madison, and Pasco, it will lose service to both Dallas/Fort Worth and Albuquerque.
Perhaps United President Scott Kirby is just being smart with the resources he has. United competes with American, Delta, Southwest, and Spirit on this route. This route is an easy upgrade and fares are consistently dirt cheap. United also competes with American, Delta, and Southwest on the Albuquerque route. I don’t like to see United give up on serving larger cities from LA, but United refused to ever go all-in. Both routes were operated by regional jets. We’ll see if United new service to Madison, Wisconsin can make it.
In total, route cutbacks will include:
- Los Angeles
- Dallas/Fort Worth
- Hamburg, Germany
- Manchester, NH
- South Bend, IN
- Washington Dulles
- Charleston, WV
I’m particularly bummed that United will end service altogether to Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg is one of my favorite cities in Europe and United had no competition on the route. The service was cut from year-around to seasonal but upguaged from a 757-200 to a 767-300. It appears the route could not sustain itself.
I’m also surprised to see United cut its flight between Washington Dulles and Philadelphia. I used to be on that flight almost every week while a law school student in Philadelphia. United also cut Philadelphia to Newark and has suspended nonstop service between Los Angeles and Philadelphia. I hate to see United just give up Philadelphia to American.
No huge surprises and it is nice to see more additions than subtractions. I think United’s plan to concentrate connecting traffic via Washington Dulles is a smart one. Now United must continue to further CEO Oscar Munoz’s ambitious goal of making people fall in love with it again.
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