A couple changes loaded in to the schedule over the weekend for United Airlines affecting long-haul service. In one case a new Dreamliner route is being implemented; the other is a route disappearing from service.
Buh-bye Buenos Aires
Service between Newark and Buenos Aires will cease as of 29 September. The route was shifted from IAD-EZE to EWR-EZE following the merger but it apparently hasn’t drawn sufficient traffic to remain viable. Service to EZE will remain on United but only via Houston. Both the EWR and IAH routes are currently operated by 2-cabin 767-300 planes. I know that there were some operational reliability issues with the service out of EWR but it doesn’t seem that’s enough of a reason to kill the route. It will be interesting to see if other routes are added or augmented with the freed up aircraft.
Service between Tokyo and Seattle will shift to a 787 Dreamliner as of 5 November. The route is currently operated by a 3-cabin 777-200. ANA recently started service on the route and Delta has recently increased lift on the route, up-gauging service to a 747-400. That’s a lot of lift on a somewhat thin route. ANA will be switching back to a 787 on the route later this year as well. The SEA-NRT was, from most arm-chair CEO metrics, the worst performing route from United into Narita. Among other things, it was the last route to get the new IPTE cabin upgrades and often had award seats available. ANA and United share revenue on their trans-Pacific operations now so this may be a move towards coordinating the scheduling and fares on those flights.
The change also raises some questions about aircraft and crew routing. Currently only legacy Continental crews are working the 787s and there is no base in Seattle. Also, the timetable does not currently show a plane flying Houston – Seattle. It is possible with the scheduling to have an aircraft do IAH-DEN-NRT-SEA and back, trading in Tokyo as needed to get planes back to Houston for maintenance and such. One flight attendant is reporting that the cabin crews will rotate in to Tokyo from either Houston or Newark and then to Seattle, back to Tokyo and back to their base. For pilots it is a bit more complicated as they don’t swap across aircraft types the way the cabin crew can.
This change, along with the updates to the "domestic" 777s will also change the service between Tokyo and Honolulu. The flights are currently served with an old config 777. They shift to a 744 in August and back to a 777 in mid-February. The seat map shows that as a 3-cabin 777 so it doesn’t look like a service downgrade on that route as of yet but the planes were flying SFO-HNL-NRT and back for a while so it is possible that could change, I suppose.
This one hits me a little harder personally given my love for Istanbul; The EWR-IST route is no longer operating as of 2 November (last eastbound is 1 November). That’s another 767-300 that will be available for other services. This one is less surprising to me given the massive capacity dump Turkish Airlines has put in the market, plus Delta also offers service to JFK. Add in the political unrest in Turkey these days and this is no real shock. But it is a bummer. (Thanks MB for sharing this news.)
So, where are these spare planes going? Anyone seen any new routes on the list.
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