United plans to add 25,000 flights in August as customers ‘are slowly returning’


  • United’s 25,000 additional flights still bring its August 2020 schedule to just 40% of flights in 2019.
  • United and other carriers are grappling with how to cater to an uptick in demand with the impact of Covid-19.
  • The airline is also increasing international flights, with destinations including Lima, Shanghai and Frankfurt.

United Airlines is planning to add about 25,000 flights in August, hoping to capitalize on an uptick in air travel, particularly to leisure destinations ranging from Bozeman, Montana, to Bangor, Maine.

The Chicago-based carrier and its competitors are seeing an uptick in travel demand from the five-decade lows hit in April as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S.

“While travel demand remains a fraction of what it was at the end of 2019, customers are slowly returning to flying, with a preference for leisure destinations, trips to reunite with friends and family, and getaways to places that encourage social distancing,” United said in its announcement on Wednesday.

Even with the increase in flights, United will be flying about half of its August 2019 domestic capacity and a quarter of the international service it operated last year. In comparison, this month it plans to fly about 30% of its domestic service as the same month last year, and just 16% of international service, the airline said.

The virus, and the measures taken to try to stop it from spreading, have shuttered key tourist attractions and prompted stay-at-home orders, devastating air travel. The number of people passing through U.S. airport security checkpoints in June was around a fifth of last year’s levels, according to the latest federal data.

While the European Union continues to bar Americans from travel amid the pandemic and vice versa, the new United schedule is based on current demand trends, said Patrick Quayle, the airline’s vice president of international network and alliances. Much of the recent demand has been one-way tickets, indicating customers repatriating, he said.

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