United is adding nearly 25,000 flights for its August schedule. It's a big bet that the demand will be there to make it worth it.
United Airlines is adding nearly 25,000 domestic and international flights in August, tripling the size of its schedule compared to June.
It is clearly a sign that the airline is taking a more bullish approach than earlier in the pandemic.
The airline noted in a press release on Wednesday that the TSA reported over 600,000 travelers passed through airport security checkpoints on Monday, June 29. That’s the first time the number exceeded 25 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re taking the same data-driven, realistic approach to growing our schedule as we did in drawing it down at the start of the pandemic,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning said in the press release. “Demand is coming back slowly and we’re building in enough capacity to stay ahead of the number of people traveling.”
Domestically, the airline in August will fly about 48 percent of its 2019 schedule, a bump up from the 30 percent it flew in July. Key parts of this increase include a doubling of its number of flights from New York/Newark, increasing service between Hawaii and it hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston Los Angeles and San Francisco, and returning around 90 aircraft back into service.
Internationally, the airline will fly about 25 percent of its 2019 schedule in August. That’s up from 16 percent in July. This will include resuming service between San Francisco and London, and also resuming service to Seoul, South Korea three days a week.
Recently, the European Union announced the list of countries where residents from whose residents would be allowed to travel to the EU. The U.S. was not on it.
During a conference call with reporters after United’s moves were announced, it was made clear that none of the company’s flights to the EU are contingent upon these rules being loosened.
The airline’s European expansion is likely influenced by where it can make money with cargo. It’s also possible the new flights will attract passengers connecting beyond Europe, to points elsewhere in the word. Other sources of passenger demand could include Americans and Europeans returning home, or traveling for urgent family or professional matters. Recovery in leisure travel will depend on the relaxation of travel restrictions.
UPDATE: This story was updated to further clarify the airline’s European flights.
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Photo credit: United Airlines plane. The company is adding nearly 25,000 flights in August. Skift