United Targets Midwest Vacationers in DST Boost

A United Airlines Holdings Inc. Bombardier CRJ-550 aircraft stands at a gate at O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | fake images

United Airlines is adding more than two dozen nonstop routes from the Midwest to coastal cities popular with vacationers for the summer season, a bet that travelers will continue to gravitate to the great outdoors.

The Chicago-based carrier said Thursday that its general May schedule will be 52% of what it flew in May 2019, which will be the most flights in more than a year, when the pandemic closed business and most of the air travel. Last May it flew 14% of its May 2019 capacity. Its domestic schedule in May will be 58% of its May 2019 capacity.

The plans show the airline’s focus on domestic vacationers during another summer, usually the most lucrative season for airlines. Air travel has risen steadily as more people were vaccinated over the past month, but business travel and international travel continue to decline sharply compared to domestic vacation spots.

“We wanted to target our assets where the demand is,” said Ankit Gupta, United vice president of network and schedule planning. He said the airline’s capacity to Florida is almost back to the same level as 2019.

Starting May 27, United plans to add new nonstop flights from Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Indianapolis. Destinations and frequencies vary by market from two to four times per week and include Portland, Maine, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Pensacola, Florida.

Most of the service will be performed on your 50-seat CRJ-550 jet.

Other new nonstop include Houston to Kalispell, Montana, Washington to Bozeman, Montana and Chicago to Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Other carriers also go after customers eager to get out. Delta Air Lines announced last week a series of summer services to destinations such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Glacier Park, Montana.

Leisure-focused low-cost airlines like Spirit Airlines also plan to grow this summer, while low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines is entering United’s territory by entering hubs at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Intercontinental Airport. George Bush in Houston.

“There is going to be significant competition for all customers in the United States,” Gupta said. “We believe we have all the right ingredients.”

International travel continues to lag behind domestic travel due to continued travel restrictions and low demand. United’s May international time is 46% of its May 2019 schedule, although flights from Latin America and the Caribbean will exceed May 2019 levels as travelers seek vacations and visit friends and family.


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