United Airlines plans 3,500 domestic flights a day for December amid a pandemic
Hoping for strong holiday travel, United Airlines said on Thursday it would offer 3,500 daily flights within the United States in December, the most in any month since the pandemic began.
United said it plans to offer 91 percent of domestic flights in December, the same month as it did in 2019, though the company’s final schedule could still change. That month, United will introduce new direct routes – and restart a few others.
The airline plans to focus on flights connecting the Midwest to hot-weather destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando, or ferrying passengers to the ski slopes. The airline said there has been a 16 percent increase in flight searches for holiday travel compared to the same time in 2019.
Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning, said, “We are seeing a lot of demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that focuses on the two things people want most for the holidays: bright sunshine and fresh snow. ” and scheduling in United.
United and other airlines this summer enjoyed strong demand due to widespread vaccination, though the spread of the Delta version of the coronavirus slowed that pace. The industry had hoped that corporate travel would resume in a big way after Labor Day, but many professionals have not returned to offices full time and business travel remains down.
Overall, air travel appears to have settled at about 75 percent of 2019 levels in September, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. Another boost is expected from the Biden administration’s plan to ease travel restrictions on vaccinated foreigners starting next month, especially around the holidays.
United said it expects the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday to be particularly busy. It also expects Thursday, December 23, and Sunday, January 2, to be popular travel days.
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