United Airlines ramps up international expansion

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United Airlines is gearing up for its largest transatlantic expansion in history with 10 new routes in spring 2022 as the airline anticipates a rebound in international travel driven by U.S. customers worn out by pandemic restrictions. 

"Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways," United senior vice president of international network and alliances Patrick Quayle said in a statement. "Our expansion offers the widest range of destinations to discover – introducing new, trendy locales that our customers will love, as well as adding more flights to iconic, popular cities."

UNITED AIRLINES IN THE PROCESS OF FIRING 232 UNVACCINATED EMPLOYEES

The international expansion will feature five new destinations, including: 

  • Service three times per week between Amman, Jordan, and Washington, D.C., beginning May 5. Customers will be able to explore Amman’s numerous historical sites and visit other top destinations in Jordan including Petra, the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum desert. The route will be flown by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
  • Service daily between Ponta Delgada in Azores, Portugal, and New York/Newark beginning May 13. The route will be flown by a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, featuring United’s new interior with enhanced seat back entertainment with Bluetooth connectivity and overhead bin space for every customer.
  • Service three times a week between Bergen, Norway and New York/Newark beginning May 20. Customers will be able to experience Bergen’s surrounding mountainous landscape and breathtaking fjords. The route will be flown by a Boeing 757-200.
  • Service three times a week between Spain’s Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands and New York/Newark beginning June 2. The route, which will be the first and only flight between the U.S. and Mallorca, will fly on a Boeing 767-300ER.
  • Services three times a week between Tenerife and New York/Newark beginning June 9. The route, which will fly on a Boeing 757-200, will allow United customers to enjoy the stunning black and white sand beaches of Spain’s Canary Islands.

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United will also add new daily flights next year between Denver and Munich, Chicago and Milan, Washington D.C., and Berlin, and New York/Newark to Dublin and Rome. In addition, the airline will launch seven routes interrupted by the pandemic, including:

  • Daily flights between San Francisco and Bangalore beginning May 26
  • Daily flights between New York/Newark and Nice beginning April 29
  • A second daily flight between New York/Newark and Frankfurt beginning April 23
  • Daily flights between Chicago and Zurich beginning April 23
  • Flights from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York/Newark to Tokyo’s Haneda airport by March 26

All flights are subject to government approval. 

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The move comes as vaccinations have ramped up in the U.S., with more than 217 million Americans ages 12 and up, or 76.7% of the population, receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while more than 187 million Americans ages 12 and up, or 66.2% of the population, are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart told employees in a joint memo that more than 99% of its 67.000 U.S.-based employees, aside from those who submitted for accommodation, have been vaccinated since the airline rolled out its mandate on Aug. 6. Originally, the airline had 600 employees who did not comply with the policy, but the number has since trickled now down to 232, according to United.  

"For the less than 1% of people who decided to not get vaccinated, we’ll, unfortunately, begin the process of separation from the airline per our policy," the memo read. 

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United and other airlines anticipate that international travel demand will fully rebound once the Biden administration lifts travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors to the United States from Europe and elsewhere, which is set to take effect in early November. 

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