As air travel soars while the threat of COVID recedes, would-be travelers are facing a new threat: flight cancellations. In early October, Southwest canceled nearly 2,000 flights, and less than a month later over the Halloween weekend, American Airlines did the same, stranding passengers across the country. Mass flight cancellations have created chaos at a number of U.S. airports over the last few months, and unfortunately, experts have said the situation might get even worse in the coming months. In fact, United Airlines is now cutting entire routes to 11 different cities, starting this month. Read on to find out what cities will no longer be serviced by this airline.
United is dropping 11 regional flight routes to small U.S. cities from its hubs in Houston, Denver, and Chicago, Business Insider reported. The airline will no longer fly to Kalamazoo, Michigan; College Station, Texas; Columbia, Missouri; Mosinee, Wisconsin; Evansville, Indiana; Killeen-Fort Hood, Texas; Lansing Michigan; Monroe, Louisiana; Pierre, South Dakota; Watertown, South Dakota; and Twins Falls, Idaho.
The dates for these cuts vary, but the first are set to hit this month. According to The Points Guy, United will no longer provide service to Twin Falls starting Nov. 30, while Kalamazoo, College Station, Columbia, Mosinee, Evansville, Killeen-Fort Hood, Lansing, Monroe, Pierre, and Watertown will get their service cut off starting Jan. 3.
According to Business Insider, United, like many airlines, has found that some of its markets have been slow to recover following the impact of the COVID pandemic. United Airlines told the news outlet that it would work to help make alternate plans for customers impacted by these cuts, but that these small cities would be getting cut indefinitely “due to changes in the long-term sustainability.”
“Many different factors determine a successful route and our decisions include careful evaluation of our overall network, fleet, resources at our regional partners, and yields. With that in mind, we have determined that these particular routes are not sustainable for the long-term,” the airline told Business Insider.
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Evansville Regional Airport (EVV) in Indiana said that United is currently serving twice-daily flights from EVV to Chicago, but after its exit, American Airlines will continue to serve that route, as reported by the Courier & Press. “EVV will continue to stay in touch with [United Airlines] around future strategic direction and opportunities. As the airline industry continually grows even leaner, we urge the region to continue supporting their local airport,” the airport said in a statement to the news outlet.
Texas A&M University System also confirmed in an email press release on Nov. 3 that United Airlines would be ending flights to Easterwood Airport in College Station, as reported by The Battalion, the university’s student newspaper. The airline currently runs two separate flights from the Easterwood Airport to Houston every day, and its exit will mean that the airport no longer has routes to this city.
John W. Clanton, president of Easterwood Airport Management, said in the press release that the decision was unexpected, as the airport had seen a significant increase in boarding passengers every month following a decline in travel during the height of the COVID pandemic. And Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp added that the airline’s decision was “devastating” to the university. “We’re doing everything we can to get them to change their mind,” Sharp said in a statement.
United is not the only airline pulling flights from smaller communities. According to The Points Guy, at this same time in 2020, American Airlines suspended its service to three small cities in the Northeast—Newburgh, New York; New Haven, Connecticut; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The airline told the news outlet that its flights to these cities were “not financially viable routes for the foreseeable cities.”
Delta Air Lines also recently dropped its route from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Durango, Colorado, on Nov. 1, just six months after relaunching it, as reported by the Durango Herald. SkyWest, a regional carrier who operated Delta’s flights between these cities told the news outlet that, similar to United’s cuts, demand was a major factor in this decision.
“We appreciate the support we have seen from the community; however, there is not enough sustainable demand to continue offering these flights,” a spokesperson for SkyWest told the Durango Herald.