More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic brought the travel industry to a standstill, airlines are finally beginning to see signs of improvement. Many carriers are beefing up flight schedules by bringing back suspended routes and adding new daily departures as passengers start to take to the skies once again. But even amid this travel boom, United Airlines just announced it would be cutting flights to eight major cities in the next month. Read on to see which airports will be affected by the changes.
While it hasn’t been an entirely smooth ride, airlines are finally beginning to see a new trajectory in business after two years of travel restrictions and deflated customer demand. According to data from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), 2,248,861 travelers passed through security checkpoints on May 8, up from 1,707,805 on the same date last year and approaching the 2,419,114 reported in pre-pandemic 2019.
Many carriers have responded by adding more flights, especially to popular summer tourism destinations that are eager to receive visitors again for the first time since COVID grounded leisure travel. “The pandemic really does seem to be behind us here in the U.S.,” United Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella said at the J.P. Morgan Industrials Conference on March 15, per USA Today. “Bookings across most of the network are at normal levels.”
But despite the allure of a travel-heavy summer season, United announced that it would be cutting flights to eight major cities over the next month as it contends with operational issues, travel news outlet The Points Guy reports. For at least the month of June, the carrier will suspend service from Newark to Maui (OGG), Honolulu (HNL), and Tokyo (NRT), as well as between Washington Dulles (IAD) and Sao Paulo (GRU), Geneva (GVA), and Honolulu. The airline also said it was suspending flights from Dulles to Dublin from June 4 through June 30.
Even with travel demand on the rise, the airline explained that it was suspending the flights due to an aircraft shortage. Per The Points Guy, the issue stems from the fleet’s Boeing 777-200 and 777-200ER planes. The jets have remained grounded since an incident in February 2021 in which a Honolulu-bound United flight from Denver scattered engine parts down onto the Denver area, fortunately avoiding any injuries or fatalities. Initially, the carrier had planned to resume using the now repaired planes as of May 13, but a delay pushed their return to service back until May 26, leaving the airline without a sufficient number of aircraft for its previously announced June schedule.
“United makes regular adjustments to our schedule in response to factors including resources such as available aircraft,” the airline said in a statement to The Points Guy. “We look forward to bringing back this flying soon.”
But the latest cuts aren’t the only schedule changes planned for the carrier. News of the suspended routes comes just days after United announced it would be augmenting its existing route map. On May 5, the airline began flights to five new international destinations, including Amman, Jordan (AMM), Ponta Delgada (PDL) in Portugal’s Azores, Bergen, Norway (BGO), and Palma de Mallorca (PMI) and Tenerife (TFS), Spain.
The new routes, which focus on lesser-known tourist destinations, aimed to take advantage of the surge in demand for leisure visits to European destinations while parts of Asia remain under travel restrictions and business travel continues to lag, The Points Guy reported. Fortunately, despite the carrier’s aircraft shortage, United says the new routes will not be affected by the latest cuts.
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