United adds more Latin America routes

The US carrier plans to launch eight new routes and add more flights to 19 destinations in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico.

United Airlines is this winter expanding service to destinations in Caribbean, Central America and Mexico as the carrier seeks to increase its share of leisure and VFR traffic.

For US West Coast passengers, the Chicago-based airline will begin new nonstop service between Los Angeles (LAX) and San Pedro Sula (SAP) in Honduras from Dec. 17, operating 3X-weekly. Flights from LAX to San Jose (SJO) in Costa Rica start two days later, initially 1X-weekly rising to daily from Jan. 5.

In early January, flights to Liberia (LIR) in Costa Rica will also start from LAX and San Francisco (SFO), operating 3X-weekly and 1X-weekly respectively.

Two new routes are being added from Denver (DEN), with nonstop service to Belize City (BZE) in Belize and SJO, while daily year-round flights between Washington Dulles (IAD) and Santo Domingo (SDQ) in the Dominican Republic begin on Dec. 17.

In addition, service will return between Cleveland (CLE), Ohio and Cancun (CUN) in Mexico.

“These eight new routes highlight the continued expansion of our network and build upon our strong presence in Latin America,” United VP of international network and alliances Patrick Quayle said.

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“Our new and increased service offers travelers more opportunities to find warm-weather getaways and visit friends and family over the winter season.”

United also plans to increase service to seven beach destinations in Mexico—including Cozumel (CZM)Puerto Vallarta (PVR) and San Jose del Cabo (SJD)—as well as adding flights to Guatemala City (GUA) in Guatemala and San Salvador (SAL) in El Salvador.

Speaking on a third quarter earnings call on Oct. 15, United executive VP and CCO Andrew Nocella said the carrier’s capacity would reach 45% of 2019 levels in Q4, while capacity during the first quarter of 2021 would be in line with this.

“Incremental capacity we do add back in the fourth quarter is expected to be tilted towards our Houston and Denver hubs, with the goal of getting us back on track to our original network objectives of building connectivity from our interior hubs and service to smaller communities,” he said.

“Capacity is also added in non-hub point-to-point routes to Florida, which have experienced a quicker rebound in demand in the short run, not a typical market for United.”

During the same earnings call, CEO Scott Kirby also shone further light on the Star Alliance member’s planned return to New York John F Kennedy (JFK).

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week Network