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A United 767-300 at Chicago O’Hare. (Photo: Greg Linton)

United Places Bets on Latin America, Hawaii in October Schedule

United Airlines announced in a press release Friday it will increase its schedule to 40% of 2019 numbers in October. For comparison, the airline will fly 34% of its 2019 schedule in September.

United will fly 46% of its 2019 domestic schedule in October – compared to 38% in September – and 33% of its October 2019 international schedule, compared with 29% in September.

“We continue to be data-driven and realistic in our approach to rebuilding our network,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s Vice President of Domestic Network Planning in a press release. “Because October is typically a slower month for leisure travel, we’re adjusting our schedules to reflect these seasonal changes in customer demand while resuming service or adding capacity on routes where we’re seeing increased customer demand for travel.”

“United is even realigning its schedule patterns with the customer in mind to match the current demand for leisure travel. In October, the airline plans to add more flights on days popular with leisure travelers looking to get a head start on long weekend getaways and will schedule fewer flights on days where demand is traditionally lower,” the airline said in its release.

United’s domestic schedule revival is driven by Hawaiian routes, of which eight will be resumed. United will confirm the eight routes once the state approves the airline’s pre-arrival COVID testing program. Hawaii currently requires both inbound and inter-island travelers to submit digital applications with health and contact information, and out-of-state visitors can soon expect to be placed in a “resort bubble,” which will keep tabs on them while allowing them to move between islands, upon arriving in the state.

The airline is also boosting its presence in Florida, as it will launch routes from Washington Dulles to Sarasota and Miami as well as from Denver to Fort Myers.

United will resume or start new service on a total of 50 domestic routes in October. 37 of those will be out of its Chicago, Denver and Houston hubs.

A United 757-300 in San Francisco. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Internationally, the airline is focusing on resuming routes in Mexico, Central America and South America. 14 destinations will receive resumed services, including Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru and Panama City, Panama. Services to the Mexican cities Cancun, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta will resume out of Chicago, Denver, Houston, Neward and Washington Dulles hubs.

United will also increase service from Newark to Tel Aviv to twice daily and resume thrice-weekly service from Washington, D.C. to Tel Aviv; both changes will resume Oct. 25.

United’s statement emphasized that it is testing new ways to boost the traveler experience, pointing out that it was the first U.S. legacy airline to eliminate change fees earlier this week. It also pointed to health and safety protocols like enhanced cleaning, touchless bag checks and a new program dubbed the ‘Destination Travel Guide’ that allows passengers to see local coronavirus restrictions in destinations they are flying to.

This announcement comes soon after United announced it will furlough as many as 16,000 workers in October once CARES Act funding that currently prohibits layoffs expires. United says furloughs could end up being lower depending on how many people take voluntary leave or early retirement this month – such voluntary leaves have already cut furloughs down from the 36,000 United warned it could need earlier this summer – or delayed if the U.S. government passes a CARES Act extension before the current Sept. 30 deadline.

About 6,920 flight attendants are currently set to be furloughed as well as 2,850 pilots, 2,010 maintenance workers and 1.400 management and support staff.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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