Why Is United Airlines Beginning Amman, Jordan?

United Airlines raised eyebrows last week when it revealed a host of ‘unusual’ new destinations non-stop from the US, including Amman, Bergen, Palma, Ponta Delgada, and Tenerife North. The pandemic has often led airlines to try ‘innovative’ routes away from their core, and United is no exception.

United B787-8
North America to Amman had over 440,000 passengers in 2019. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

United Airlines to Amman

Although the schedule to Jordan isn’t yet known, United is expected to serve Amman from May 2022 on a three-weekly basis. The B787-8 will be used, of which the carrier has 12 examples. These aircraft have 243 seats, with 28 Polaris suites, 21 reclining seats in Premium Plus, 36 seats in Economy Plus, and 158 in economy.

Amman will be United’s second destination in the Middle East after Tel Aviv, served from Newark, Chicago, Washington, and San Francisco. So, why Amman?

United Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner N27903 (2)
Washington to Amman is an intriguing opportunity. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

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Over 440,000 passengers to Amman

The North America to Amman market is a relatively large one helped by visiting friends and relatives demand, growing tourism, US embassy and government travel, and for those bound for nearby countries, including Lebanon, Syria, and parts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Jordan is also a relatively safe country and is keen to develop.

In 2019, over 440,000 round-trip passengers were carried, booking data obtained via OAG Traffic Analyzer reveals. This means passengers daily each way (PDEW) of over 600 before further stimulation from non-stop service. Around three-quarters of the market flew indirectly via Europe.

Royal Jordanian Boeing 787
Royal Jordanian serves four airports in the US and Canada. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

DC: the largest unserved city in the US

Amman-Washington traffic totaled approximately 30,000 point-to-point (P2P) passengers, making it the largest US unserved market from the Jordanian capital. Significantly, booking data suggests that Washington also had an average one-way fare of approximately US$712 (excluding taxes and any fuel surcharge), making it one of the highest fares from Amman to North America.

  1. Amman to New York/Newark: ~79,000 P2P passengers; Royal Jordanian serves JFK
  2. Chicago: 53,000; served by Royal Jordanian
  3. Toronto: 31,000
  4. Washington: 30,000
  5. Los Angeles: 29,000
  6. Detroit: 20,000; served by Royal Jordanian
  7. San Francisco: 19,000
  8. Houston: 16,000
  9. Dallas: 15,000
  10. Montreal: 15,000; served by Royal Jordanian
  11. Boston: 9,000
  12. Atlanta: 8,000
  13. Miami: 8,000
  14. New Orleans: 7,000
  15. Phoenix: 6,000
United to Amman
If United can capture 25% of traffic from these US/Canada airports to Amman alone, it’d have an average of 170 passengers per flight. Image: GCMap.

The potential for United

As United’s Newark hub increasingly focuses on local traffic, Washington Dulles is driven more by transit traffic. United’s coming Dulles service is well placed to capture traffic bound across the US and Canada together with government and embassy travelers to/from Washington itself.

United will operate 312 flights to/from Amman with ~76,000 round-trip seats, assuming three-weekly year-round flights. If it could capture 25% of the Amman-North America market listed above (excluding New York/Newark and Chicago), it would have 53,000 passengers.

When spread across 312 annual flights, there would be an average of 170 passengers per flight. That’s just looking at the larger markets, it’s before inevitable demand stimulation to/from Washington, and of course, United should be able to command a dominant share to/from Dulles. (With thanks to ‘B’ in the preparation of this article.)

What are your views on United’s coming route to the Middle East? Let us know in the comments.