United Airlines Further Reduces Summer International Schedule

Earlier today, United Airlines shared additional route cuts for the summer. The air carrier’s schedule shows that the airline will drop a further 20 routes on top of those that were announced over the previous few weeks. Many seasonal routes to Europe will not continue until at least the end of October. United Airlines is already operating a shortened schedule through May and June.

United Airlines flight
United Airlines will cut some of its usual routes to Europe, South America, and over the Pacific for summer. Photo: Getty Images

20 routes chopped from the summer schedule

United Airlines has dropped 20 additional routes from its usual summer schedule owing to the coronavirus. At the moment, the airline is operating a drastically reduced route with no likelihood of things improving enough in the next few months to support select routes. United has eradicated the majority of its seasonal routes right through October. However, it will phase in a select few at the start of September.

United will remove some seasonal routes to nine countries until 23rd October 2020. Countries with affected destinations are as follows:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom.

However, some routes to these countries will be stopped for a shorter period. For example, flight UA900 and UA930 between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and London Heathrow (LHR) will be suspended until 23rd October. However, two flights will operate to LHR from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and three from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) after 7th September 2020.

Some destinations will go ahead from select US airports. Photo: Great Circle Mapper

United adds to weeks of route cuts

Today’s announcement is just one in a string of route cuts that the airline has had to make on its summer schedule. On 24th April, it announced 12 route cuts to destinations in Europe and South America. These included a flight to Arturo Merino Benítez Airport in Santiago, Chile (SCL) from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH), and to Porto, Portugal (OPO), from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Earlier than that, on 20th April, Live and Lets Fly reported that the airline had cut five summer routes. The week before, it had cut four.

2 United Aircraft
United is operating just 10% of its regular schedule. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

United is feeling out the market

In an earnings call for the first quarter of 2020, the airline made it clear that its load factor was not what it once was. President of United Airlines Scott Kirby said:

“Our schedule is down 90%. And we plan for it to stay at that level until we begin to see demand recover.”

In May, United will operate flights to just four destinations on the other side of the Atlantic from three American airports. These routes are as follows:

  • Chicago – London
  • New York – Amsterdam
  • New York – Frankfurt
  • New York – London
  • New York – Tel Aviv
  • Washington Dulles – Frankfurt.

Making schedule cuts early ensures that United is not out of pocket when it comes to canceling routes and issuing refunds. However, making route cuts is not the only way that the airline could save funds.

UA Flight attendants
United will look to other areas of its business to save cash. Photo: United Airlines

Speaking in the earnings call, Scott Kirby said:

“Our responsibility to our employees, our customers, and our shareholders is to make sure that United is here for the long-haul and provides as many good jobs as possible to our people…we will make the hard decisions that are required to make sure United survives, is successful and has the [best] jobs possible for our people.”

It seems that for now, these are the last of United’s route cuts. We contacted the airline to see if it would be making further adjustments to its summer schedule, but it was unavailable to comment at the time of publication.

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