United Airlines To Cut Some Hong Kong And Buenos Aires Flights Citing Weak Demand

United Airlines has announced it will be suspending flights on its Chicago-Hong Kong, Guam-Hong Kong and Newark-Buenos Aires routes beginning early September. Citing “decline in demand”, United’s decision comes amidst increasing unrest in Hong Kong and a continuing recession in Argentina.

A United Airlines Airbus A319
Hundreds of Hong Kong flights have been canceled due to the ongoing protests. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

As reported by Live and Lets Fly yesterday, United Airlines will cut back on its routes to Hong Kong and Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires from September, due to ongoing difficulties in both countries. Flights into and out of Hong Kong have been severely disrupted over the past month as a result of widespread protests against a proposed extradition bill.

The protests have forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights and even led to the resignation of Cathay Pacific’s CEO Rupert Hogg after a backlash against his stance on the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Argentina is struggling with a prolonged recession and a collapse of its currency which has nosedived over the past five years. The increasingly tough economic conditions in Argentina have led to a decline in demand for international flights into and out of the country.

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A United Airlines 757-300 departs for Hawaii
United Airlines will still operate multiple services to Hong Kong each day. Photo: InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr

United Airlines’ suspensions

The new suspensions announced by United are as follows:

  • Chicago-Hong Kong from 9 September onwards
  • Guam-Hong Kong from 14 October onwards
  • Newark-Buenos Aires from 26 October onwards

Although the Hong Kong and Buenos Aires flight suspensions will be a significant blow to the total capacity on these routes, United Airlines will still operate a number of flights to both cities from other US Airports. Buenos Aires will still be served by a daily flight from Houston, good news for any frequent flyers from Argentina to the US.

Alongside the existing daily flight to Hong Kong from both Newark and San Francisco, United will add an additional daily service from San Francisco. This means United will remain the leading US carrier in terms of international flights to the city.

At the moment these suspensions are just a temporary measure and feasibly, provided the situations in Hong Kong and Argentina improve, could be reintroduced at a later date.

A United Airlines spokesman said the cancellations will “help us better match our capacity to customer demand.”

A United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at Los Angeles International Airport
Will the suspensions be temporary? Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

United Airlines’ new routes

The suspensions were announced just a day after United revealed a series of new flights to international destinations including Curacao, Palermo and Nice. Alongside these brand-new destinations, which increase United’s European offering significantly, a number of additional services to existing international destinations have also been added.

These will include new services to both London and Delhi, dependent on government approval.

United Airlines will also become the US carrier offering the most international flights out of its Chicago O’Hare hub. With the addition of Zurich, it will now operate flights to seven year-round European destinations from the airport.

Clearly, United is by no means struggling. This arguably makes the cancellations of services to Hong Kong and Buenos Aires even more of a concern for both cities, as other airlines could follow suit if their current situations continue.

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