United Airlines’ Fascinating Florida Expansion

Filed Under: United

Airlines have significantly cut capacity in recent months due to the pandemic. What’s surprising is seeing the ways that airlines are starting to add back capacity. One might assume that airlines would start by adding back routes that were previously suspended, but that’s not what’s happening — rather airlines are largely adding point-to-point routes that they never operated before.

United is the latest airline to add all new routes, so let’s take a look at those.

United Airlines’ Florida expansion

United Airlines has announced plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter to four popular Florida destinations. As it’s described, these new nonstop flights reflect United’s strategy of aggressively and opportunistically managing the impact of coronavirus by increasing service to destinations where customers want to fly most.

These routes will operate between November 6, 2020, and January 10, 2021, with service frequencies increasing most around the holidays. These new flights are already bookable online.

As Ankit Gupta, United’s VP of Domestic Network Planning, describes these additions:

“The addition of these new flights represents United’s largest expansion of point-to-point, non-hub flying and reflects our data driven approach to add capacity where customers are telling us they want to go. We look forward to offering customers in the Midwest and Northeast more options to fly nonstop to Florida this winter.”

Let’s take a look at the details of the new routes:

New routes to Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

United Airlines will operate up to:

  • 2x daily flights between Boston and Fort Lauderdale with 737-800s
  • 2x daily flights between Cleveland and Fort Lauderdale with 737-800s
  • 2x daily flights between New York LaGuardia and Fort Lauderdale with A320s

New routes to Fort Myers (RSW)

United Airlines will operate up to:

  • 2x daily flights between Boston and Fort Myers with A320s
  • 2x daily flights between Cleveland and Fort Myers with 737-800s
  • 1x daily flights between Columbus and Fort Myers with Embraer 175s
  • 1x daily flights between Indianapolis and Fort Myers with A320s
  • 1x daily flights between Milwaukee and Fort Myers with A319s
  • 2x daily flights between New York LaGuardia and Fort Myers with 737-800s
  • 1x daily flights between Pittsburgh and Fort Myers with Embraer 175s

United Airlines is adding seven new routes to Fort Myers

New routes to Orlando (MCO)

United Airlines will operate up to:

  • 2x daily flights between Boston and Orlando with 737-800s and A320s
  • 2x daily flights between Cleveland and Orlando with 737-800s
  • 2x daily flights between New York LaGuardia and Orlando with A320s

New routes to Tampa (TPA)

United Airlines will operate up to:

  • 2x daily flights between Boston and Tampa with 737-800s
  • 1x daily flights between Cleveland and Tampa with 737-800s
  • 1x daily flights between Milwaukee and Tampa with 737-800s
  • 2x daily flights between New York LaGuardia and Tampa with A319s


United Airlines is adding four new routes to Tampa

Talk about a new era of route planning…

The past few months has really transformed the airline industry in so many ways. Airlines have turned their approach to route planning upside down, and it’s fascinating to see.

This certainly seems like the right approach for airlines to take, as they’re increasingly focused on point-to-point routes, rather than building up hubs when there’s limited demand.

If you told me last year that United would operate an Indianapolis to Fort Myers flight with a mainline aircraft, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I’m not sure which part of this expansion is most interesting:

Bottom line

The old playbook for airline route planning is out the window, as airlines are now seemingly adding service in any and all markets where they see demand returning, regardless of how it fits into the overall network.

We’ll have to see how coronavirus evolves on a state-by-state basis, but with international travel restrictions, it’s logical that Americans may increasingly be looking to visit Florida this winter.

Still, seeing United add service out of Boston to Florida, as well as adding seven non-hub flights to Fort Myers is something I never thought I’d see.

But 2020 is full of surprises, so…

What do you make of United Airlines’ Florida expansion?

Comments
  1. Because Covid 19 hotspot Florida is really where we should be sending people from the north. Great. Go to Florida, get the virus and fly home. What could possibly go wrong.

  2. RSW is a perennially high-priced airport that has a lot of space and huge demand in the peak winter season. People probably want to go to places where they can be outdoors – and now have a track record of being open vs. shutting down and re-opening over and over again.

    Currently, the market in SWFL is kinda fragmented, there is more capacity into TPA, but then you have outlier airports like SRQ & PGD that are growing. I don’t know that this is all that revolutionary since airlines from the the cold-winter central states on airlines like Allegiant/Sun Country have been happening for years. This continues to prove that not everyone looking to go to FL wants to go to Disney-CentralFL or Miami-Dade SouthFL.

  3. The Cleveland routes have existed historically. Prior to the pandemic, CLE-MCO was year round while CLE to RSW, FLL, and TPA were seasonal.

  4. No one actually *wants* to go to Southwest Florida, but it’s been the more affordable retirement home for over a decade, and taking the kids to see grandma is a cheap vacation.

  5. i don’t think RSW was all that insane. UA simply senses weakness in Spirit and Frontier’s business model. The ULCC business model is now a liability not an asset.

    But those new routes almost feel like an ex-Northwest route planning veteran jump shipped to UA.

  6. Interesting that Alaska started similar routes from the West Coast. Good to see more competition into RSW. Marco, Sanibel and Captiva islands are great.

    Lots of people escaping high tax states for low tax states as well.

  7. UA simply senses weakness in Spirit and Frontier’s business model. The ULCC business model is now a liability not an asset. i don’t think RSW was all that insane.

    those new routes almost feel like an ex-Northwest route planning veteran jump shipped to UA.

    I’m probably reading too much into the tea leaves again

  8. I find it interesting that PBI received no new flights, especially since Fort Myers received a ton (and SWFL is a much smaller market than Palm Beach County).

  9. No RSW from the huge originators of DTW or MSP. UA is clearly avoiding anyone else’s fortress hubs (especially DL’s) like the actual plague.

  10. Who the hell wants to go to Florida, which is one of four or five “epicenter” states in US with COVID19 cases? The dumbshine state. The CLE routes all operated before, when CO/UA hubbed there and some outlasted the hub closure in 2014.

  11. @BUZZ
    SADLY THOSE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE HIGH TAX HIGH CRIME AREAS KEEP VOTING FOR THE SAME KINDA POLITICIANS.

    @SHOEGUY
    the people who wanna go to Florida are th ones who don’t like winter

  12. +1 for what @henryLAX said

    +1 for what @Jo Momma said

    How come PBI was not invited to United’s late fall/early winter Florida nonstop party?

  13. This is all fine and dandy but CMH-RSW alone is already served during the winter by DL, WN and NK. Now UA wants a slice of the seasonal pie? Maybe that’s why they’re only using an E175 as a late comer to the market. I’m sure the same can be said for the other routes.

  14. Stunning and concur with others: increasing traffic to Florida and bringing even more people there and back seems like the dumbest thing ever to do at the moment. Immoral and irresponsible but hey at this point this country will never cease to “amaze” me.

  15. I would rather call the “new playbook” is just an opportunistic one, given than the airlines all have plenty of idle capacity in terms of slots, fleets and staff. Why would you not take a business opportunity under these circumstances? We also see that a lot in Europe, where even legacy carriers started to operate for instance into some rather small island destinations (e.g. Zakynthos, Cagliari) when they opened up for tourism. But they obviously reduce or even shut them down immediately, if some travel restrictions appear (e.g. Alicante). As there is almost exclusively O/D traffic, opening up and shuting down can be done with little side effects.

  16. I think UA is banking on people wanting to stay in the US this winter with the border uncertainty. Hawaii and PR/Virgin Islands will still have quarantines so UA is calculating that much of that demand will shift to Florida, despite the states COVID stats.

  17. What about Daytona Beach? Best year round weather and sensational wide sandbar beach. Pretty girls, recreation galore, Hard Rock Hotel and 25 Sushi Bars. Great airport too!

  18. It’s because everyone in the Florida flight attendant bases but a few are above the cut off line to be furloughed. They gotta make them work some how.

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