Coverage: United Airlines plans to boost flights while others trim plans
United Airlines, the No. 3 U.S. air carrier, is forging ahead with a strategy to boost its flight network by another 4 percent to 6 percent next year after an estimated 5 percent network growth in 2018, CEO Oscar Munoz said.
Tracy Rucinski of Reuters had the news:
The growth plan has allowed United to claw back market share in a competitive U.S. airline sector and boost its profitability. Traditionally capacity growth in the airline business has come at a cost to yields because it can drive down fares.
So far, United has bucked the industry trend, increasing unit revenues – a closely watched metric that compares airlines’ sales to available seat miles – at a faster pace than rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
When the airline unveiled an aggressive plan to add capacity in the middle of a price war with low cost carriers in January, the stock of parent company United Continental Holdings fell 7 percent.
But United investors have more than reversed course, sending its shares up about 30 percent so far this year against a roughly 2 percent drop on the S&P 500.
David Koenig of the Associated Press reported that Munoz also said its pilots don’t need more training on a Boeing jet:
Oscar Munoz says that’s because United’s pilots are prepared to respond to problems that might surface with automated systems on modern planes.
“When any trouble arises, our pilots are trained to fly the damn aircraft, period,” Munoz told reporters Wednesday.
He said pilots are taught to disconnect automated systems, fly the plane by hand, and gain altitude to buy time while they trouble-shoot problems. He said the Boeing 737 MAX is safe and reliable.
The remarks were Munoz’s first public comments about the plane since the Oct. 29 Lion Air accident, which killed 189 people when the Boeing 737 MAX plunged into the Java Sea.
Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Business Journal reported United plans to make San Francisco a major international flight hub:
United Airline on Wednesday made clear it is laser-focused on transforming its growing hub at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) into a major locus of international flying, not only to the Asia Pacific region but to other international destinations in North America and Europe.
For now and probably for the foreseeable future, United’s largest hub, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, remains totally out of the loop as United continues to aggressively add new international destinations not only from SFO, but from its largest East Coast hub at Newark Liberty International Airport.
United will introduce nonstop year-round service from SFO to Auckland, New Zealand; Tahiti, French Polynesia and Amsterdam, Netherlands next year, the company said Wednesday.
Further, United is adding year-round service from SFO to Toronto and Melbourne, a market that United will be the only United States-based carrier serving.
Finally, United will add seasonal nonstop service to New Delhi and a second daily flight to Seoul from SFO.