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United adds 8 domestic routes, but cuts 4 in shift from Newark to DC

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United Airlines is making some big changes to its domestic network.

The Chicago-based added eight new domestic routes in its latest schedule update over the weekend, as first seen in Cirium timetables and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson. Many of these new routes include leisure-focused destinations across the country.

But, United’s expansion isn’t all additive, as the airline is concurrently scrapping four routes from its network — essentially shifting them to another one of its hubs.

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Here are the details.

United shifts regional focus to Dulles

Perhaps the most noteworthy update is United’s shift in focus in the Northeast.

The airline filed plans to scrap four routes to its Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) hub, effective in late June. This includes the following Pennsylvania markets:

  • Harrisburg
  • Philadelphia
  • State College
  • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Instead of flying from these four cities to Newark, the airline will add flights from them to its hub at Dulles International Airport (IAD) just outside of Washington, D.C.

These four new routes will take off on June 27, and they’ll be operated by United Express regional affiliates. CommuteAir will deploy an ERJ 145 on every route except for Philly, which will be operated by Republic Airways using an Embraer E175 that features a 12-seat first-class cabin.

These short “puddle jumpers” were designed to connect nearby outstations with United’s hub in Newark, where onward flights to destinations across the country and the world awaited. United timed these flights to align with key departure banks, giving flyers plenty of one-stop itineraries to many of the world’s most popular destinations.

All but one Newark route (Scranton is the exception) was added during the pandemic, when the airline doubled down on turning Newark into its primary transatlantic hub.

With these pandemic-era additions, travelers from Harrisburg or Scranton looking to go to places like the Azores or Palma de Mallorca could take a short flight to Newark and then easily connect to long-haul flights — without needing to arrange ground transportation to Newark.

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But shifting the regional feed back to Dulles — where they had historically been operated from — might not be as attractive for flyers. While United serves many of the most popular destinations from its D.C. hub, it doesn’t offer nearly as comprehensive a schedule as it does from Newark.

So going forward, travelers based in some of these smaller cities might not necessarily find as many convenient itineraries to get to cities like Berlin or Dubai.

For United, however, this regional shift might make more sense. It comes as the Federal Aviation Administration is waiving slot usage requirements and schedule facilitation policies at Newark, where United’s operation has struggled during some of the busiest travel periods over recent years.

Without these regional flights, United can instead focus on flying larger planes to more popular destinations from Newark.

The shift in regional focus also gives United more feed to its Dulles flights, which might in turn lead to additional routes being added from IAD.

United adds more summer flights


United isn’t just tweaking its network in the Northeast. The airline is also adding four new routes to its schedule, as shown below.

  • Denver — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, begins May 25.
  • Houston — Traverse City, Michigan, begins June 29.
  • Chicago — Nantucket, Massachusetts, begins May 25.
  • Chicago — Wilmington, North Carolina, begins May 25.

Most of these new routes are designed to appeal to leisure-focused travelers who are looking for a summer vacation.

The routes from Denver and Houston are new for United, while the routes from Chicago are technically resumptions from 2021, Cirium schedules show.

All of these flights will operate seasonally during the summer, and they join United’s other recent network-focused announcements for additional summer flights.

This includes seven new flights to Alaska and Canada during the warm-weather months, as well as new long-haul routes to Faro, Portugal, Athens and Barcelona.

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