- United Airlines is dropping 11 routes to small cities from its hubs in Houston, Denver, and Chicago.
- The small communities are getting cut “due to changes in the long-term sustainability,” United said.
- Delta and American have also stopped service to some low-demand markets since the pandemic started.
United Airlines is dropping 11 small US cities from its network as regional routes continue to feel the effects of the pandemic.
Small cities have felt the brunt of the changes made by major airlines as they modify their flight schedules in response to demand. Amid the pandemic, United scrambled to find profitable and sustainable routes, but despite a strong rebound in air travel, some of its markets have yet to recover.
In particular, 11 regional routes to small cities from the airline’s hubs in Chicago, Houston, and Denver have proved unsustainable and are getting the boot. Take a look at the routes that United will cut indefinitely:
- Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan: United is dropping its service from Chicago to Kalamazoo, though American and Delta will still serve the airport from Chicago and Detroit, respectively.
- College Station, Texas: College Station will no longer have United’s service from Houston, though it will still be served by American from Dallas-Fort Worth.
- Columbia, Missouri: United is ceasing service from Chicago to Columbia, but American will remain an operator to Chicago.
- Mosinee, Wisconsin: Mosinee is losing its United service from Chicago but will keep Delta routes from Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit and American flights from Chicago.
- Evansville, Indiana: United is stopping flights from Chicago to Evansville, but the airport will keep American flights from Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and Delta service from Atlanta and Detroit. In addition, Allegiant Air flies from Evansville to Orlando and Destin in Florida.
- Killeen–Fort Hood, Texas: Killeen-Fort Hood is losing United’s flight from Houston, which makes American the airport’s sole airline with service to Dallas-Fort Worth.
- Lansing, Michigan: United is ending its Chicago to Lansing route. American will continue to serve the airport from Washington, DC, and Chicago, while Delta will operate flights from Detroit.
- Monroe, Louisiana: Monroe is losing its United service from Houston, though Delta will continue serving the city from Atlanta, while American will fly from Dallas-Fort Worth.
- Pierre, South Dakota: United is dropping service from Denver to Pierre. After United’s exit, Denver Air Connection, which is a charter and scheduled passenger airline, will be the sole operator out of the airport.
- Watertown, South Dakota: Watertown is the second South Dakota airport dropped by United. Like Pierre, Denver Air Connection will be the airport’s only scheduled airline.
- Twin Falls, Idaho: United is ending its Denver to Twin Falls route, leaving Delta as the sole operator, with service from Salt Lake City.
In an email to Insider, United confirmed eight of the dropped routes and said it would work with customers to help make alternative plans.
“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,” the airline told Insider. “With that in mind, we have determined that these particular routes are not sustainable for the long-term.”
Two of the cut routes, including Pierre and Watertown in South Dakota, qualify for federal subsidies under the government’s Essential Air Service program, which ensures small communities with low demand will still be served by a commercial airline.
SkyWest confirmed to TPG last month that the two routes to the Essential Air Service cities were dropped because SkyWest lost the rebid for the contracts. Instead, the Department of Transportation chose Denver Air Connection to operate the routes. SkyWest also said low demand to both cities, as well as to Twin Falls, contributed to the service cuts.
United is not the only airline cutting small-city routes. According to The Durango Herald, Delta cut service from Salt Lake City to Durango, Colorado, just six months after relaunching it, which was the first time the carrier operated the route since 2008. SkyWest operated the route on behalf of the mainline carrier. In a written statement to the publication, SkyWest blamed low demand for the cut.
“We appreciate the support we have seen from the community; however, there is not enough sustainable demand to continue offering these flights,” a SkyWest spokesperson said in the statement.
Moreover, American Airlines has suffered from insufficient demand to smaller cities, having cut service to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in September, according to the ABC affiliate news station WNEP 16. American also pulled out of New Haven, Connecticut, in September, according to the Hartford Courant, leaving the airport with no commercial service until Avelo Airlines launched operations on Wednesday.