United Airlines adds more than 60 scheduled flights per week to its hub in Denver. This is the latest step to capture more liaison traffic through the middle continent gateway.
The Chicago-based airline will restructure its flight schedule at Denver International Airport on Thursday, February 14, as part of a "rebuilding" process. The move involves bundling more incoming and departing flights into defined "banks", with the busiest bank handling 57 scheduled flights at 09:00.
As part of the process, United will add more flights from Denver, which is already the fastest growing hub. It will conduct an average of 420 daily departures from the airport in the week after February 14, compared to an average of 376 daily departures in the previous year, according to data from FlightGlobal schedules.
"Rebanking provides more flexibility for our customers and increases connectivity, ultimately allowing better access to more destinations," the airline said about the new schedule in a newsletter to pilots on 6 February. The new flight plan contains 64 additional weekly mainline flights.
United's revised schedule in Denver
The changes in Denver are just the latest part of the hub strategy of United's middle continent. Since January 2018, the carrier has been accelerating domestic capacity growth with the focus on adding connections through its hubs in Chicago, Denver and Houston to capture the "natural share" of the US market for its executives.
Andrew Nocella, United's Chief Commercial Officer, said in January of this year that the potential connections at the three hubs increased by 12%. Chicago's schedules were adjusted in February 2018 and Houston's schedules in October 2017.
"We're pretty optimistic," he said about Denver's performance after the revision. However, he added that United still has a long way to go to realize the full benefits of its growth strategy for the continent.
Nocella should know the benefits of the Rebaus. In his former position as senior vice president of network planning for American Airlines, following his merger with US Airways in December 2013, he oversaw similar projects at the hubs Chicago O'Hare, Dallas / Fort Worth, Miami and Philadelphia.
JP Morgan analysts said in a January report that the strategy was "extremely rational for United's competitive position" and led to positive margin growth in 2018.
Adjusted pre-tax margins increased by one percentage point to 7.7% in 2018.
Denver is the zero point for United's mid-continent growth. The Hub's capacity increased 9.7% year-on-year in 2018, more than twice as fast as Chicago O & Hare and two points faster than Houston Intercontinental, and is expected to grow by a further 12.2% this year % climb.
The airline has added a variety of new routes from Denver, including to Charleston, South Carolina, Eureka, Flagstaff, London Heathrow and Sonoma, California. Everett (Washington) and Frankfurt is one of the new destinations to be added this year.
Denver Airport is in the early stages of a $ 3.5 billion expansion program to keep up with this growth. It will add 11 for Mainline Aircraft capable gates for Concourse B for United (though some will replace existing regional gates), reconfigure the terminal and add more trains between Terminal and Concours.
However, one advantage of the overturned flight plan is that, at least in theory, United can make better use of the airport's existing presence by adding banks that are less active during the current flight phases.
For example, the airline is considering this at its hub in Washington Dulles, where it operates only four daily banks. Kirby said last August that United observed additional banks at the airport during off-peak hours to improve North-South connectivity on the US East Coast.
United plans to increase its system capacity by a further 4-6% in 2019, following an increase of 4.9% last year.