By Charlotte Seet
United Airlines Reveals Biggest-Ever Transatlantic Network Expansion
United Airlines has been known to use cryptic social media posts to build up suspense to the reveal of big news. This year, that took the form of a video posted on the airline’s social media accounts, allowing followers to guess the new routes the airline was planning to introduce in the coming year, whereby winners who guessed correctly could win free seats to these destinations.
On Thursday, United announced those destinations as it detailed its biggest-ever transatlantic route expansion to date.
“Our expansion offers the widest range of destinations to discover – introducing new, trendy locales that our customers will love, as well as adding more flights to iconic, popular cities,” United Senior Vice President of International Network and Alliance Patrick Quayle said in a press release.
The five new destinations will be launched as non-stop services, starting on May 7 between Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport and Amman, Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport. Operating year-round on a three-times-weekly schedule using the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, this flight will allow for United to be the only North American carrier flying direct to Amman and connecting the two capitals.
As for the second addition, United plans to add a third Portuguese destination starting on May 13 between Newark Liberty International Airport and Ponta Delgada – João Paulo II Airport, located in the Portuguese Azores. This flight — which will leave United Airlines with the most flights to Portugal of all U.S. carriers — is scheduled to operate daily using the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
In addition, beginning May 20, the airline will become the first U.S.-based airline to fly to Norway, when it adds a three-times-weekly flight to Bergen, Norway’s Flesland Airport from Newark by using the Boeing 757-200.
Then, on June 2, United will begin operating a Boeing 767-300ER from Newark to Palma de Mallorca Airport in Mallorca, Spain on a three-times-weekly schedule. The airline will become the first to operate between the U.S. and Mallorca. The route will become the carrier’s third to Spain, joining existing services to Barcelona and Madrid.
And finally on June 9, United is planning the launch a flight between Newark and Tenerife South Airport in Spain’s Canary Islands utilizing a Boeing 757-200 on a three-times-weekly schedule.
In addition to the new launches, United will also be upping the frequency to five other destinations in anticipation of increasing travel demand. Out of these five, two will be an extension to existing services, whereas the remaining three will be new routes to destinations that are already a part of the airline’s network
“Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways.” said Quayle in the same press release.
Set to launch on April 23, the first of the three new routes will be between Denver International Airport and Munich Airport using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. This flight will complement an existing service from Denver to Frankfurt and London, which is planned to resume in March, which will also make United the only U.S carrier to offer transatlantic service from Denver.
Then on May 6, the second new route between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Milan’s Malpensa Airport will commence using the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Once again, this flight will complement another existing service between Newark and Milan.
The third new route will be launched on May 6 between Dulles International Airport and Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport utilizing a Boeing 767-400ER. United will become the only U.S airline to offer direct flights between the two capitals.
As for the two increased frequencies, United will be adding a second daily flight to Dublin starting on April 23 using a Boeing 757-200, as well as a second daily flight to Rome on 26th May using a Boeing 777-200ER, with both flights out of Newark.
United also announced that it would start seven routes that were previously announced, but never made to launch due to the pandemic. These include a variety of daily flights, starting with service between San Francisco and Bangalore; Newark and Nice; as well as Chicago and Zurich. Additionally, United is beginning a second daily flight between Newark and Frankfurt and is also adding flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from Washington D.C. and Newark.
Besides its biggest-ever transatlantic route expansion, the big reveal also marks as United’s biggest long-haul expansion since the pandemic took hold of the airline industry in March 2020.
Targeted mainly at leisure passengers for next summer, United’s strategy seems to be trying out new destinations that have never been tapped into before, allowing for the airline to face little to no competition from rival carriers.
While the risk seems to be substantial, it might be a gamble that would pay off considerably given how restricted air travel has been in recent months. Factoring in that United has various hubs across the country which will allow for hundreds of connecting opportunities, the chance exists that this huge risk might truly play in United’s favor in the long run.