United Airlines eliminates Shuttle, cuts flight to Sacramento

Associated Press
Thursday October 04, 2001

CHICAGO (AP) — In its latest concession to the severe dropoff in air travel, United Airlines said Wednesday it is discontinuing its United Shuttle brand at the end of October and incorporating at least some of those flights into United and United Express flights. 

It was not immediately clear how many flights would be eliminated, United spokesman Joe Hopkins said. He said it’s not yet certain how many daily flights the airline will be operating as of Nov. 1 when the latest cutbacks are incorporated, saying the schedule is still being worked on. 

United Shuttle operates mostly in the West, using a fleet of 59 Boeing 737 airplanes. Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that caused passenger demand to slump badly, it offered about 468 daily flights. 

The nation’s second-biggest airline said United or United Express will continue to offer service in nearly all markets that currently have Shuttle service. 

The service cutback is the second announced this week by United, which said Monday it will downgrade service in several cities at end of the month. 

Since Sept. 11, the airline has reduced its schedule from 2,400 daily flights to about 1,900. Last week, it announced that it will fly 69 percent of its schedule beginning Nov. 1. It also has said it will cut at least 20 percent of its work force of about 100,000. 

United said it continues to adjust its operation to reflect softened demand. It said it sees, in particular, less demand for heavy-usage, quick-turnaround flights in its system. 

“Our goal is to maintain the best possible schedules for customers and communities that rely on United for service, while maintaining flexibility to fine-tune our capacity to meet demand,” said Christopher D. Bowers, United Airlines’ senior vice president-North America. “Eliminating Shuttle allows us to achieve this by using a mix of either larger or smaller jet aircraft depending on market conditions and frequency needs.” 

Hopkins said discontinuing the United Shuttle brand means that “instead of a 737, you might see a bigger airplane” operating the route under the United or United Express brand. 

On Monday, United said it will end all service in Little Rock, Ark.; Bellingham and Yakima, Wash.; Lynchburg, Va.; and Victoria, British Columbia. It also said it will withdraw service from Allentown, Pa.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; Portland, Maine; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and Santa Barbara, Calif.; and replace it with United Express, its regional carrier. 

Also being eliminated are United Express service between Washington-Dulles and Allentown, Pa.; Cincinnati, Akron and Canton, Ohio; Louisville, Ky.; and Knoxville, Tenn.; and nonstop service between Washington-Dulles and Sacramento, Calif.