United Airlines is shifting strategy at Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles, with big plans to concentrate connecting traffic at Dulles and make Newark “almost entirely” mainline.
Let’s first turn to Domestic Network VP Ankit Gupta. His strategy is simple: Dulles has more capacity and room for growth, therefore Dulles should focus on connecting traffic:
Newark capacity is finite, so to grow we need to fly larger airplanes. Dulles has more capacity and, as such, presents a great opportunity for our connecting passengers who today make their connections in Newark.
Over the coming years, you’ll see us doing more of both – adding frequencies and connectivity in Dulles and eventually growing EWR to the point where it will be almost entirely mainline service.
That’s big news, as congestion issues at Newark have limited the potential for new routes. Larger aircraft are not sustainable on many regional routes to small cities in the East and Midwest.
Here’s a summary of the planned network changes, with all changes set to take effect on October 04, 2018:
- Adding new nonstop seasonal service December 19-March 30 between EWR and PSP (Palm Springs, California)
- Expanding seasonal service between EWR and EYW (Key West, Florida) to year-round
- Increasing service to the following destinations from EWR:
- BNA (Nashville, Tennessee)
- BTV (Burlington, Vermont)
- CHS (Charleston, South Carolina)
- FLL (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
- GSO (Greensboro, North Carolina)
- MCO (Orlando, Florida)
- MEM (Memphis, Tennessee)
- MSY (New Orleans, Louisiana)
- ORF (Norfolk, Virginia)
- PBI (West Palm Beach, Florida)
- PHX (Phoenix, Arizona)
- PIT (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
- RSW (Fort Myers, Florida)
- SAT (San Antonio, Texas)
- SRQ (Sarasota, Florida)
- Reallocating United Express flights from Newark to Dulles on the following routes:
- AVP (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania)
- CHA (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
- ITH (Ithaca, New York)
- From EWR, we will discontinue service to:
- BWI (Washington-Baltimore)
- BDL (Hartford, Connecticut)
- DSM (Des Moines, Iowa).
- We will continue to serve BWI, BDL and DSM from multiple hubs
- We will suspend winter season service December 19-March 30 between EWR and SMF (Sacramento, California)
At first glance, it seems like United is adding more connecting options to Newark. Instead, United is trying to encourage more o/d (direct) traffic from Newark and direct connections to Dulles where there is more room and better handling during irregular operations.
No destination will lose service: all will continue to be served by at least one United hub. Furthermore, the new Palm Springs service will compete head-on with JetBlue’s seasonal service between Palm Springs and New York JFK.
Any discussion of Dulles is not complete without reflecting upon the “temporary” Terminal C/D that remains one of the ugliest concourses in the country. There is still no money allocated to upgrade these facilities. But while ugly, I find Dulles to be convenient and quite easy to connect in. I’d rather connect in Dulles over Newark any day of the week. Thus, I’m pleased by the change in strategy.
Newark is losing six destinations, but its long-term prospects are bright: more mainline jets, less congestion from connecting traffic, and increased service to popular destinations. Meanwhile, rather than being de-hubbed, Dulles is given a new level of importance as United’s primary East Coast connection center.