United-Alaska Air turf war? United expands 18 San Francisco routes

A battle appears to be brewing in San Francisco between United and Alaska airlines.

United is ramping up capacity on 18 North American routes out of its San Francisco hub, a move that appears aimed at growing competition there from Alaska Airlines and merger partner Virgin America.

United has long operated one of its most important hubs at San Francisco (SFO), where it is the top carrier. But Alaska Airlines recently acquired San Francisco-based Virgin America and has wasted little time in expanding its schedule there as the carriers begin merging into the USA’s fifth-biggest carrier.

TODAY IN THE SKY: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines, by the numbers

It was just this past March, for example, that Alaska Airlines announced a major expansion from the Bay Area that included 10 routes from SFO.

Now, United is expanding its own capacity at the airport, one of its major domestic bases that's also its top launching point for trans-Pacific flights.

United will grow at SFO by adding additional flights on eight existing routes while “upgauging” to bigger aircraft on 10 others. Seven of the routes getting more capacity on United overlap with the 10 routes announced by Alaska in March. Another – Seattle – will boost United capacity to Alaska Air’s hometown and biggest hub.

United’s capacity-boost changes will begin in June and will be phased in throughout the summer.

TODAY IN THE SKY: Virgin America name will be phased out in favor of Alaska Air, 'likely' in 2019 | Alaska Air begins merger with Virgin America, promises 'more to love.' 

“Every day in San Francisco we proudly welcome more than 30,000 customers aboard United Airlines and today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to being the Bay Area’s leading U.S. airline,” Mike Hanna, United’s San Francisco hub chief, said in a Monday statement. “These additional flights and larger aircraft to new cities and those already part of our network will offer customers even more convenient flight options and easy connections to popular destinations around the U.S. and Canada.”

United’s capacity-boosting moves in San Francisco are as follows:

San Francisco routes getting additional flights on United

Seattle: 10 daily flights by Aug. 1, up from the current 7

Albuquerque: 2 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 1

Baltimore/Washington: 2 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 1

Indianapolis: 2 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 1

Kansas City: 3 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 2

Nashville: 2 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 1

Philadelphia: 3 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 2

Portland, Ore. : 9 daily flights by Aug. 15, up from the current 7

San Francisco routes getting bigger planes on United

Bozeman, Mont.: Airbus A320s replace Embraer E175s starting July 1

Burbank, Calif.: Boeing 737s replace Embraer E175s starting June 8

Calgary, Canada: Airbus A320s replace Embraer E175s starting June 8

Dallas/Fort Worth: Airbus A320s replace Embraer E175s starting June 8

Fresno, Calif.: Boeing 737s replace Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jets starting Aug. 15

Kansas City: Airbus A320s replace Embraer E175s starting June 8

Minneapolis/St. Paul: Airbus A320s replace Embraer E175s starting June 8

Palm Springs, Calif.: Boeing 737s replace Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jets starting June 8

Sacramento: Boeing 737s replace Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jets starting July 1

Santa Barbara, Calif.: Airbus A319s replace Embraer E175s starting June 8

TODAY IN THE SKY: United now flying longest route of any U.S. airline

 

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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