As the new year approaches, United Airlines is set to reduce many of its international services as demand remains low. United’s January 2021 schedule will be half of its January 2020 schedule. Many of the suspended routes won’t resume until summer 2021. Instead, the airline will focus on markets that are set to recover faster.
Despite promises of a vaccine and fewer travel restrictions, United is still unsure if its international schedule will recover fast enough to justify a full January schedule. According to liveandletsfly.com, the airline will only operate 48% of flights compared to the same period last year.
The airline is blaming a recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the US and ongoing travel restrictions for a dip in new year bookings. As a result, United is cutting many routes to Europe and Asia while adding a few routes closer to the US for leisure travelers looking for some winter sun.
In a statement to Simple Flying, a spokesperson for the airline said,
“Throughout the pandemic, United has been a leader in nimbly reshaping and adjusting our schedule. The adjustments to the January schedule reflect our continued practice of matching capacity with demand. We will continue to carefully evaluate and analyze demand trends and will adjust our schedules accordingly.”
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Which routes have been cut?
United is temporarily suspending its service from Chicago to Aruba from January 2nd until springtime. Its route from Chicago to Tel Aviv will also be temporarily suspending from January 2nd. A proposed resumption target has been set for summer if demand increases. United will also suspend its Chicago to Brussels route from December 24th with hopes to restart the route in summer.
The airline is also cutting two routes from its Houston base. The first route to Oaxaca will be suspended from January 3rd until Springtime. The second route to Aruba will stop on January 2nd and will also resume in spring should demand increase.
United is also cutting two routes to London; one from San Francisco and the other from Washington. Both routes will cease operating from January 4th until the summer months. Washington to Zurich will also be suspended from January 4th until summer 2021.
The final routes being suspended are from Guam to the islands of Palau and Yap. Reportedly, both routes will cease on December 27th before the new year. At the moment, United is unsure when these flights will resume but are talking to local authorities to work out a schedule.
Despite cutting so many international flights, United is looking to capitalize on the growing number of leisure passengers looking for some winter sun close to the main states. As such, the airline is set to launch several new routes in January.
Both Los Angeles and San Francisco will have new routes connecting them to Liberia in Costa Rica. Additionally, United will launch another route connecting Los Angeles to Belize City in Belize starting from January 9th. There will also be new routes to Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo in Mexico starting in February.
United’s January schedule shows a strong focus on domestic operations as well as flights to the Caribbean and South American countries. Travel restrictions and continue concerns mean passengers are less willing to fly to Europe and Asia for a break. United is also set to bring back its grounded Boeing 737 MAX in the first months of 2021. No doubt, some passengers will add that to their list of concerns when traveling in 2021.
What do you think of United’s schedule? Do you think we will see more travel restrictions lift in January? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.