United Airlines adds more than 60 mainline flights a week to its hub in Denver, the latest step in attempting to capture more connecting traffic through the mid-continent gateway.
The Chicago based airline will restructure its schedule on Thursday, February 14 at Denver International Airport as part of a process known as "rebanking". The move will see more arriving and departing flights clustered in defined "banks", with the busiest bank carrying out 57 mainline flights around 09:00.
The process will show United more flights from Denver, already its fastest growing hub. It will carry an average of 420 daily flights from the airport in the week after February 14, compared with an average of 376 daily departures a year earlier, planning FlightGlobal data shows.
"Rebanking offers our customers more flexibility and increases the connectivity that ultimately provides better access to more destinations," the airline said in a newsletter to pilots on 6 February. The new schedule contains 64 extra weekly flights on the main line, adds it.
United & # 39; s rebanked schedule in Denver
The changes in Denver are just the last piece of United's mid-continent hub strategy. Since January 2018, the airline has accelerated domestic capacity growth, with a focus on adding connections through its hubs in Chicago, Denver and Houston to capture what its executives see as its "natural share" in the US market.
Andrew Nocella, United's chief commercial officer, said in January that potential connections are 12% higher at the three hubs under their rebanks schemes. Chicago schedules were modified in February 2018 and Houston plant in October 2017.
"We are pretty optimistic about it," he said about Denver's performance after rebanking. He added, however, that United still has a "long way to go" to realize the full benefits of its growth strategy for the middle continent.
Nocella should know the benefits of rebanking. In his previous position as senior vice president of network planning at American Airlines, he led similar projects at the Chicago O & # 39; Hare, Dallas / Fort Worth, Miami and Philadelphia hubs of that courier after the merger with US Airways in December 2013.
JP Morgan analysts said in a January report that the strategy is "very rational for United's competitive position" and has generated positive margin growth in 2018.
The adjusted pre-tax margins at United increased by 7.7% in 2018.
Denver is ground zero for United & # 39; s mid-continent growth. The capacity of the hub increased by 9.7% year-on-year in 2018 – more than twice as fast as the growth at Chicago O & # 39; Hare and two points faster than at Houston Intercontinental – and this year will be another 12.2 % increase.
The airline has added an abundance of new routes from Denver, including to Charleston (South Carolina), Eureka (California), Flagstaff (Arizona), London Heathrow and Sonoma (California). Everett (Washington) and Frankfurt are new destinations that will be added this year.
Denver Airport is in the early period of an $ 3.5 billion expansion program to keep up with this growth. It adds 11 mainline aircraft-capable ports to concourse B for United (although some will replace the existing regional ports), reconfigures the terminal, and it added more trains between the terminal and the concourses.
One of the advantages of his frustrated planning, however, is that United, in theory, can make better use of its existing footprint at the airport by adding banks during the current periods of lower aircraft activity during the day.
For example, the carrier is considering this at its hub in Washington Dulles, where it operates only four daily banks. Kirby said last August that United is looking at other banks at the airport during off-peak hours to improve North-South connectivity along the US East Coast.
United plans to increase its system capacity by a further 4-6% in 2011, after an increase of 4.9% last year.