by Michael Lowrey
This is a picture of a United Airlines jet in Charlotte. It’s a sight seen out at Charlotte Douglas International Airport for many, many years. It’s also something you won’t be seeing again for awhile.
Yes, that’s right. As of last week, United has ended mainline service to Charlotte until at least June, though service will continue on United Express regional jets to Chicago O’Hare, Newark, Houston Intercontinental, and Washington Dulles. This is also just the latest cut made by the airline in Charlotte. A comparison of February 2015 flights to the combined flight offerings of United and Continental in February 2010, which was before they merged, shows a 53 percent reduction in available seats from CLT :
February 2010: 27 combined flights to five destinations, which breaks down as:
Continental: 18 flights to three destinations (CLE, EWR, IAH) with 5 737 mainline jets and 13 50-seat regional jets. Total seats: About 1,286
United: 9 flights to two destinations (ORD, IAD) with two Airbus A319 mainline jets and seven flights on large regional jets with a first class section. Total seats: 722
Combined Continental and United total seats available: just over 2,000 a day
February 2015: 18 flights to four destinations (no Cleveland) with three flights on large regional jets with a first class section and 15 flights a day on 50-seaters. Total seats a day: 952
So what’s the future hold for United in Charlotte? Glad you asked. The airline has just released its projected fleet plan for 2015. Highlights:
Mainline: Adding 11 787s and 25 737s while retiring 2 747s and 13 757s — so plus 9 widebodies and 12 narrowbody jets
Regional: United is retiring 20 percent of existing fleet of 566 regional aircraft this year, including 15 of its 115 66-seat CRJ-700s large regional jets and 80 of its 322 50-seat or smaller regional jets. 49 very nice 76-seat Embrear 175s will be brought in as replacements. Still, you do the math, and it’s a net negative. So overall, going forward, we’re likely to be breaking even at capacity at best, though likely with fewer flights though on larger aircraft.