For the first time in years, United Airlines is about to have a sliver of an international presence. Their statement is that 95% of their international routes (and all of their long-haul international routes) will be cut in the coming week or so. This will, basically, make United Airlines a domestic airline.
United Airlines Cutting 95% of International Routes – Becoming a Domestic Airline
We were jumping on United last week when they changed their terms again to allow 25 hours for a schedule change on international flights. They eventually made it better at 6 hours of a change but, the catch? Those passengers still wouldn’t get their money back until after one year (though they could use their credit in the meantime).
This was clearly a run up to the fact that they were going to have to shut down almost every international route they have. Not only that, but their partners in the Star Alliance are trimming back at an aggressive rate as well. This means that travelers hoping to return to the US via a Star Alliance carrier may only have a matter of time to do that (though, if you need to get back, even flying something like Spirit to get back home may be just fine – but, thankfully, Spirit doesn’t fly to Europe!).
The Schedule of United Airlines Scaling Back of International Routes
Here is their remaining timeline for international flights.
- United is drawing down its remaining trans-Atlantic operation. The final westbound departures will take place on March 25, with the exception of its Cape Town–New York/Newark service which will operate as previously scheduled with the last flight departing Cape Town on March 28.
- United will reduce its remaining trans-Pacific operation starting March 22, with final eastbound departures on March 25, with the exception of service between San Francisco and Tahiti and San Francisco and Sydney which will have final returns to San Francisco on March 28.
- United will maintain some Guam flights as well as a portion of its Island Hopper service.
- United will reduce its Mexico operation over the next five days. After March 24, it will only maintain a small number of daytime flights to certain destinations in Mexico.
- United will draw down its remaining Central and South America operations. The last southbound departures will take place March 24.
- United will temporarily suspend all flying to Canada effective April 1.
In destinations where government actions have barred us from flying, we are actively looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.
That last part refers to charters that the US government would obtain in order to get State Department employees, families, and private citizens home to the US, should the situation arise.
Becoming a Domestic Airline
This schedule cutting does not just affect their international routes. Like the other airlines, United is scaling back their domestic schedule as well. According to rumors, there may even be a domestic ban on flights in the coming week so even United would not keep flying.
United has said that, unless they receive a government bailout (the US airlines are seeking a $50 billion bailout package from the US government and taxpayers), they will be laying off workers. (in case you, like many, were wondering what the US airlines have done with their huge profits over the years, Bloomberg says that the US airlines spent 96% of free flowing cash on stock buybacks in recent years).
Like every other industry in the world, the airlines are facing unprecedented times. This rolling virus effect could cause devastating repercussions in the airline industry for many, many years to come.
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