On Friday, United Airlines announced it would be adding close to 500 daily domestic flights in June. Operating an average of 3,100 flights per day, this will bring the airline to 67% of its pre-crisis capacity. Nine new summer routes will ferry holidaymakers to national parks, Hawaii, and Alaska.
While the pandemic is bound to have a ripple effect throughout US aviation for the near future, the country’s airlines are perhaps beginning to see the end of the worst of it. Earlier this week, American Airlines announced that it would be looking to resume hiring pilots in the fall.
Close to two-thirds of overall network
Just today, United Airlines said it would be adding no less than 480 daily flights to its domestic schedule in June, including nine entirely new routes. Altogether, the carrier’s services for the month will account for 67% of its pre-crisis domestic capacity and 60% of the overall network from 2019.
“As leisure travel continues to return this summer, we are adding more flights to our June schedule to national parks, Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, and other popular destinations,” Ankit Gupta, Vice President of Domestic Planning and Scheduling at United, said in a statement.
“June is historically the beginning of the peak summer travel season, and ramping up to over 3,500 total daily flights across the system this June underscores the continued demand for leisure travel and our responsiveness to meeting that demand,” Mr Gupta continued.
Yellowstone, Hawaii, and Alaska
Betting big on Americans vacationing at home this year, United is launching nine brand-new domestic routes. These include a daily service from Denver, Colorado, to West Yellowstone, Montana, which is the closest airport to Yellowstone National Park.
There will also be two new nonstop services to Hawaii – one from Chicago O’Hare to Kona and one from New York/Newark to Maui. On peak days, United will operate 40 flights from the US mainland to Hawaii.
The airline also said it would restart service from Chicago to Fairbanks and from Chicago, Houston, New York/Newark, and San Francisco to Anchorage. United will also introduce a new flight from Fairbanks and Anchorage once peak travel season to Alaska resumes, with altogether 12 daily flights to the state.
United Airlines says it will offer on average 3,100 daily flights come June. Five hundred of these are services to 66 national park destinations, including the new route from Denver to Yellowstone. The carrier says that it will have more flights to national parks than any other American airline.
Pent-up leisure demand driving routes
The announcement follows the great influx of bookings United saw when declaring 26 new direct summer flights from Midwest cities to seven coastal destinations in the Southeast and New England. Within two days of adding the new routes, the airline had over 5,000 bookings.
Is this pent-up holidaymaking demand enough to drive a faster-than-expected recovery? Time will tell. For now, new domestic routes are good news, even if international air travel remains decimated. United also recently announced that it would be adding flights to Croatia, Greece, and Iceland, all countries that have indicated their willingness to welcome US visitors without quarantine.