United bucks trend to open scores of new routes

by Jerome Greer Chandler
August 03, 2018
United routes growth bucks trend

United Airlines has all but wrapped a massive route expansion, growing its network by 33 new destinations over the past four months even as competitors pare back their own plans.

While such major U.S. players as Southwest and—just recently—JetBlue are deferring new routes and increased flight frequency plans because of steadily rising jet fuels costs, UA just wrapped a surge in new service, with more new routes to come.

Notably, United is poised to launch Washington Dulles International (IAD)-Miami flights December 19, just in time for the Christmas rush.

There will be one nonstop daily, with a second daily trip with an Airbus A319 during peak holiday demand. This connects MIA with United’s hub at IAD.

Florida is a popular place during the holidays, and the airline is girding for the demand by upping flight frequencies from Dulles to Orlando and Tampa from November 28 through January 6, 2019, there will be five daily IAD-Orlando nonstops and a quartet of Dulles-Tampa departures.

All this comes against a backdrop of United increasing flights to  Florida as a whole his past year.

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With the addition of Miami-Dulles to its nonstop route map, UA will, be serving nine cities in the Sunshine State form its IAD and New York/Newark hubs: Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota and West Palm Beach.

The East Coast activity comes against a backdrop of connecting outlying cities to United’s hubs.

“We are focusing on the strength of our hub cities,” says Ankit Gupta, the airline’s vice president of domestic planning.

This expansion is borne largely on the wings of some 551 regional jets and propjets, smaller aircraft that carry the United label but are operated by other airlines.

Cities such as Prescott, Arizona; Vernal, Utah and Missoula, Montana now are part of the United network. In many instances, this puts passengers just one plane change away from connecting to the rest of the airline’s far-flung network.

On the international front, United announced it will begin its 20th year of service to Israel with a new nonstop flight between its hub at Washington Dulles International Airport and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport starting May 22, 2019.

The new flight, which is subject to government approval,  will be the first to be operated by a U.S. carrier between the two cities.