United Plans Capacity Cuts for 2015 Winter Schedule

By Jesse Sokolow on 23 September 2014
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United aircraft at Washington Dulles

United aircraft at Washington Dulles

United Airlines will reduce its seating capacity for the first quarter of 2015 by 6.3% according to a research report published Monday.

Buckingham Research Group analyst Daniel McKenzie’s analysis of published airline schedules predicts that the cutbacks will be the highest on domestic routes in the United States, as well as on flights to Tokyo.  The findings were first reported by Bloomberg.

According to McKenzie’s analysis, airports in the United States that will see the most dramatic change in United seating capacity are Washington Dulles International Airport, which will experience a 14% decrease, and Denver International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, both of which will see a 7% decrease. Capacity to Tokyo Narita International Airport would be cut by 17%.

The change is part of the Chicago-based airline’s strategy to match its capacity with travel demand and improve its financial performance, Jim Compton, United Airlines chief revenue officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg at the World Routes Strategy Summit in Chicago on Monday.

“If we can find ways to grow our capacity in the summer at the expense of the winter, we think that overall that is just the right thing to do,” Compton said in the interview.

United plans to offer 25% more capacity in July of 2015 than in February.  July is the carrier’s busiest travel month, while February is its least busy.

During the less busy winter travel months, United plans to increase its hiring and training of pilots, as well as to schedule jet maintenance checks.  In doing so, the airline will “ensure the aircraft are available during the summer,” Compton said.  “You do the work during the winter.”

Compton said there are three ways in which United can adjust its capacity without disrupting its schedule: adding or reducing its frequency to a city, changing aircraft size, or flying to certain destinations only during peak tourism months.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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