CHICAGO — United Airlines announced Tuesday that it is increasing the number of daily flights from O’Hare International Airport by 15 percent and will recall hundreds of furloughed employees to make it happen.
The plan calls for United to restore hourly service to 14 markets, including Boston, LaGuardia Airport in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Dallas-Fort Worth. Only five of the 77 additional daily departures will be operated by a commuter partner.
The carrier is making the move as part of intensified efforts to recapture business lost from corporate travelers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The airline slashed capacity by 23 percent and laid off 20,000 employees after the attacks but wound up losing a record $2.1 billion for the year. Still losing about $5 million a day, it hopes to jump-start its recovery by rebuilding from its Chicago hub with the 77 additional daily departures.
“As we continue to implement the driving principles of our recovery efforts, we are aggressively focusing on targeting revenue in every market we operate,” said Jack Creighton, United’s chief executive officer. “Naturally, that effort is anchored here in Chicago — United’s hometown — where we will offer consumers more flights and more destinations than any carrier serving O’Hare.”
American Airlines, which surpassed United last year as the world’s largest airline and also has a hub in Chicago, was considered likely to respond to United’s move.
When the new schedule starts June 7, United will be offering 614 daily flights from O’Hare, up from the current 537 flights but still five fewer than before the attacks.
United will be operating about 1,950 daily flights systemwide, down about 16 percent from a year earlier.
To help attract travelers, United said its most recent round of fare cuts would be available through Sept. 30, a six-month extension. Under that plan, some tickets booked 21 days in advance can be obtained at 50 percent discounts from full fares in all domestic markets, according to Chris Bowers, senior vice president for marketing and sales.
To accommodate the increased flights from O’Hare, United said it will use some planes for more hours each day and will take delivery of additional airplanes this year from Boeing and Airbus.
The expansion means hundreds of the airline’s customer-contact employees, ramp workers and mechanics who have been laid off in Chicago and around the country will be recalled.