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United Express aircraft

United Express aircraft William Howard/Shutterstock

  • 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,” according to United.

  • Delta and American have also stopped service to a handful of small, low-demand markets since the pandemic.

United Airlines is dropping 11 small US cities from its network as regional routes continue to feel the lingering impact of the pandemic.

Small cities have been a major casualty of the pandemic, having felt the brunt of the changes made by major airlines as they continue to modify their flight schedules in response to demand. During COVID-19, United scrambled to find profitable and sustainable routes, but despite a strong rebound in air travel, some of its markets are still slow to recover.

In particular, 11 regional routes to small cities from the airline’s hubs in Chicago, Houston, and Denver have proven 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 see United’s service from Houston, though it will still be served by American from Dallas.

  • Columbia, Missouri: United is ceasing service from Chicago to Columbia, but American will remain as 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 from Chicago.

  • Evansville, Indiana: United is stopping flights from Chicago to Evansville, however, the airport will keep American flights from Chicago, Dallas, and Charlotte, 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, making American the airport’s sole airline with service to Dallas.

  • Lansing, Michigan: United is ending its Chicago to Lansing route. American will continue to serve the airport from Washington D.C. 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.

  • 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 impacted customers to help make alternate 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. With that in mind, we have determined that these particular routes are not sustainable for the long-term,” the airline told Insider.

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 in October that the two routes to the EAS cities were dropped because SkyWest lost the re-bid for the EAS 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 Twin Fall, Idaho, 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 late 2020, according to ABC-affiliate news station WNEP 16. American also officially pulled out of New Haven, Connecticut in September, according to the Courant, leaving the airport with no commercial service until Avelo Airlines launched operations last Wednesday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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