United Goes Ahead With New London Flights
Photo courtesy of United Airlines
United Airlines is continuing to add flights to London even amid the growing anxiety caused by Britain’s plan to leave the European Union.
United increases its London bet
The airline already flies to Heathrow from Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, it will add more frequencies to these routes in the future. United announced that it will add another daily flight from San Francisco to London on Oct. 30. This will mean that United will serve Heathrow twice daily, year round, going forward from that date.
Los Angeles will also get another UK flight. This additional frequency, also to Heathrow, will start on April 5, 2017.
The new flights will allow United to puts its Dreamliners to use. The SFO route will be flown by a 787-8 and the LAX flights will utilize a 787-9.
Cutting back in Houston, but not by much
The carrier will be cutting back its Houston-Heathrow flights, but not by much. On Oct. 30, the same date of the inaugural flight for the second daily SFO-Heathrow service, United will step its service in Houston down from three daily flights to two daily flights.
This won’t constitute as much of a drop-off in service as it seems. This is because United will switch to larger Boeing 777s for the remaining two Houston flights. These planes have more seats than the 767s and 787s that the airline now uses on the route. Because of this, the drop off in the total number of Houston-London seats will be minimal.
Not worried about Brexit
The additions to its UK schedule show that United is not as worried as some might think about the fact that Great Britain has voted to leave the EU. Both pundits and investors seem to think that airlines will be hit especially hard by the economic uncertainty that will accompany the UK-EU breakup.
But United is doubling down on its West Coast-London routes and continuing to pursue its plans for international expansion. Premium class passengers on the new flights will get to enjoy United’s revamped Polaris business class cabin, which it is in the process of adding to all its wide body aircraft. One of the main reasons for this upgrade is that the airline wants to become more attractive on transcontinental routes.
Apparently United does not see Brexit as a deal breaker or as an issue that will interrupt its plans to become one of America’s biggest transcontinental players.
Waiting for the process to unfold
Investors were initially worried about how the UK-EU breakup would affect airlines. Shares for all three legacy carriers have fallen to lows not seen since 2014.
However, airlines seem to be approaching the issue with cooler heads. By continuing its plans to launch new flights, United is taking a cue from American, whose spokesman, Matt Miller, said that AA is not going to react too quickly to Brexit. "Like the rest of the world, we will learn more as the exit process unfolds and as the effects of that exit become more clear.”
So, although the media is eating up the UK story from every angle and investors are getting skittish, airlines are showing by their words and actions that it is too early to panic or make drastic changes.
More by Josh Lew
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