During the pandemic, large cities have been hit, but small cities have been hit harder when it comes to air service. Demonstrating that point, United Airlines plans to eliminate service to 11 cities starting next month, ceding many routes to American Airlines.
United Airlines Cuts Service To 12 Cities, Says Long-Term Service Not Sustainable
United Airlines will suspend service to the following airports:
- Battle Creek/Kalamazoo, Michigan (AZO)
- College Station, Texas (CLL)
- Columbia, Missouri (COU)
- Evansville, Indiana (EVV)
- Killeen–Fort Hood, Texas (GRK)
- Lansing, Michigan (LAN)
- Monroe, Louisiana (MLU)
- Mosinee, Wisconsin (CWA)
- Pierre, South Dakota (PIR)
- Twin Falls, Idaho (TWF)
- Watertown, South Dakota (ATY)
- Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (YWG)
Service to Twin Falls, Idaho will end on November 30, 2021. Other routes end on January 3, 2022.
Addressing the route suspensions, United said:
“Many different factors determine a successful route and our decisions include careful evaluation of our overall network, fleet, resources at our regional partners, and yields. With that in mind, we have determined that these particular routes are not sustainable for the long-term.”
Notably, Pierre and Watertown were Essential Air Service (EAS) markets and United (via regional partner SkyWest) did not receive a contract to renew services. Other route cuts simply reflect the limited demand from smaller cities that continue to be a byproduct of the pandemic.
United competed with either American or Delta on many of the routes above and will leave them without competition. That’s a change in strategy from United CEO Scott Kirby’s long-running pledge to compete more aggressively in domestic markets, but is a sign of the times: business travel has not returned and leisure travel is not sufficient to support these smaller markets.
United Airlines will drop service to 12 cities, ceding many routes to American or Delta. The cuts reflect the new reality of travel in 2021 and we can expect to see similar cuts at American and Delta as the nation emerges from the pandemic and the strategic focus shifts.
image: Quintin Soloviev