As the summer months approach, airlines are beginning to consider their timetabling options for this normally busy period. Chicago-based US legacy carrier and Star Alliance member United Airlines has recently been very active on this front. Specifically, it has boosted its schedules to short-haul international leisure destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
20% boost for Mexico and the Caribbean
According to The Points Guy, data from Cirium suggests that United’s Mexican schedules have recently received a 20% boost compared to previous capacity filings. The airline has added a total of 1,091 flights on its Mexican routes between May and October.
The additions are widespread, with six of its eight hubs (Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and San Francisco) benefitting from the increased frequencies.
This is also the case at the other end of this popular leisure corridor – all of its Mexican destinations will enjoy increased frequencies this summer! Mexico is already seeing extensive winter sun tourism, as the country presently has no restrictions for foreign travelers. This recently caused controversy, when 44 Argentinian passengers tested positive for coronavirus on a single flight from Cancún to Buenos Aires.
United’s Caribbean markets are also set to receive a similar boost of nearly 20% between May and October. All in all, the carrier has added 526 flights to its Caribbean schedules during this period. Many of these popular leisure corridors will enjoy a seven-fold increase, with weekly rotations now operating daily.
Strongest growth in Central America
The aforementioned boosts represent strong commitments from United to its Mexican and Caribbean markets. However, there is evidence of even stronger growth in its South American schedules. Overall, this market has seen a 120% boost compared to previously planned, thanks to the recent addition of 304 flights over the summer.
With an extra 112 flights, more than a third of these new operations serve Costa Rica alone. Flights to El Salvador have also seen a reasonable expansion from multiple United hubs. The new timetable will see the existing daily frequency from Washington-Dulles and Los Angeles International to San Salvador increased to 10 services a week.
Overall, these frequency increases reflect confidence on United’s part regarding the bounce-back of leisure markets this summer. The airline confirmed in a recent SEC filing that it had:
“…seen improvement in customer demand for travel and new bookings compared to previous estimations in recent weeks. The company now expects core cash flow for the month of March 2021 to be positive if the current trajectory of bookings improvement is sustained.”
Corresponding fleet expansion
For United to have developed such an extensive summer leisure schedule shows confidence in demand returning over the coming months. However, throughout the current health crisis, the airline has not shied away from expanding, despite the circumstances. For example, Simple Flying recently reported that its fleet actually grew by 35 aircraft last year.
At a time when many airlines were being forced to downsize to adapt to the challenging and unpredictable market, this is quite a feat. A further 30 aircraft are set to arrive in 2021. The carrier also gave the Boeing 737 MAX a vote of confidence, by adding 25 aircraft to its order. All in all, United is set to fly 210 MAX series aircraft once all of its deliveries are complete.
What do you make of United’s increased summer leisure timetable? Will this be part of your travel plans for the coming summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.