United Airlines will restructure its schedule on Thursday at Denver International Airport, adding more than 60 mainline flights each week.
I’ve written about United’s domestic growth strategy and rebanking strategy before. Rebanking means clustering arrivals and departures together to maximize ease of connection. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, United’s latest move at Denver will see 420 departures from the airline each day starting next week, up from 376 a year ago.
United Airlines told pilots:
Rebanking provides enhanced flexibility for our customers and increases connection opportunities which ultimately provides greater access to more destinations.
But it also provides greater risk, especially at weather-prone Denver. United (or any airline that uses this rebanking strategy) will receive great praise when passengers smoothly connect and make it to their final destination with a shorter layover. But when a flight connection is missed, you can already hear the chorus of “how could they let me book such an unreasonable connection in the first place…”
United has already seen success at other hubs it introduced rebanking in. Andrew Nocella, United’s Chief Commercial Officer, told Flight Global that connections in Houston and Chicago are up 12% since rebanking was introduced. Nocella, along with President Scott Kirby, came to United from American Airlines where they successfully introduced flight rebanking in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, and Philadelphia.
In practice, at least based upon my own experiences in Washington Dulles and Houston, rebanking is surprisingly efficient. I had great weather on my trips, but easily made a 35-minute connection in Washington Dulles. That’s something I would never have even considered in year’s past.
Again, this news sounds great in theory, but it is all about execution. United reported dismal operational figures in January, thanks in part to more domestic travel. We will know in the next month or two whether United can actually handle the new rebanking strategy in Denver.
> Read More: How United Reclaimed Its Rank As World’s #2 Airline
> Read More: United’s 2019 Growth Strategy: Target Hubs