Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many carriers have been forced to cut down on their routes and lower frequencies. However, United Airlines is adding routes to try and adapt to current market conditions. In fact, the airline is trying out point to point routes competing against LCC's and mainline carriers in the U.S..
Midwest to Fort Myers
United Airlines is launching a large route portfolio of routes from Fort Myers(RSW) to many destinations in the Midwest like Indianapolis(IND), Columbus(CMH), Pittsburgh(PIT), and Milwaukee(MKE). All of these routes will start on December 17th. However, these routes will end shortly after the holiday season on January 10th of 2021.
Below are the timings of these flights:
Based on data, United Airlines will face heavy competition with Southwest Airlines on all of these routes. For example, on its flight to Milwaukee, the carrier will face competition with Frontier and Southwest. On flights to Indianapolis and Columbus, United will receive direct competition from Southwest and Spirit.
Boston, New York, and Cleveland
Boston, New York-Laguardia, and Cleveland will all receive large point to point expansions to Florida specifically Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa.
Boston will receive double daily service to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando while Fort Myers and Tampa will receive daily service starting November 6th on peak days. However, on December 17th, flights to Fort Myers and Tampa will be increased to double daily on peak days. These flights will be operated by United Airlines' A320 and Boeing 737-800 fleet.
United Airlines will face heavy competition from JetBlue, Delta, Southwest, Spirit, and Frontier Airlines on these routes from Boston especially against its hub carriers JetBlue and Delta.
New York-Laguardia will receive double daily service to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando while Fort Myers and Tampa will receive daily service starting November 6th, similar to Boston on peak days. Like Boston, Laguardia will see its flights to Fort Myers and Tampa increased to double daily on peak days. These flights will be operated with A320's and Boeing 737-800's.
Again, United Airlines will receive heavy competition from Delta Airlines and JetBlue. Additionally, United Airlines will face competition with Southwest and Spirit on select routes.
The former United Airlines hub, Cleveland, will resume its seasonal route portfolio, with the addition of Tampa to its portfolio. Initially, on November 6th, the carrier will have daily service to Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa on peak days. However, on December 17th, every route goes 2x daily except for Tampa which gets upgauged from an Embraer E175 to a Boeing 737-800 on peak days. During peak season, all these routes will be operated with a Boeing 737-800.
Cleveland's routes will face competition from Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit mainly. Additionally, it will face competition additionally against JetBlue on flights to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers.
United Airlines will challenge low-cost carriers' presence on Florida-based routes mainly Southwest on routes to the Midwest and JetBlue on routes to the Northeast specifically Boston and New York-Laguardia.
This route expansion signifies a new stage of expansion for United Airlines. United Airlines is very limited with its point to point portfolio, mainly only focusing on hub to hub flying. However, with the reduction of business capacity in the market, United Airlines can't run as many hub to point routes to destinations like New York-Laguardia. Instead, United Airlines had decided to go after leisure travelers, targeting leisure Floridian travelers.
Ankit Gupta, Vice President of Network Planning at United, states, "The addition of these new flights represents United's largest expansion of point-to-point, non-hub flying and reflects our data driven approach to add capacity where customers are telling us they want to go. We look forward to offering customers in the Midwest and Northeast more options to fly nonstop to Florida this winter."
For its flights to the Northeast, it seems like United Airlines is clapping back against JetBlue's heavy expansion at Newark-Liberty to about 20 destinations and its large expansion to leisure destinations. United Airlines tries to penetrate Jetblue's home of Boston and a small base at New York-Laguardia.
However, due to the heavy competition that United Airlines will receive especially during these current market conditions, it will be very hard for United Airlines to make a profit in destinations like Boston. For example, on flights to Orlando, United Airlines will receive competition from low-cost carriers like Spirit and Frontier which will easily undercut United's prices, not to mention dominant presences by JetBlue and Delta.
What are your thoughts on United Airlines' domestic expansion? Do you think their moves are risky? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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