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
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’ (story continues below)
“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…