United adds another new long-haul route for next summer

United Airlines is expanding its long-haul routes to Europe for the upcoming summer season, showing confidence in transatlantic demand despite concerns from analysts. The airline recently announced a new route from San Francisco to Barcelona, which will operate daily from May 23, 2024, to October 25, 2024. The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-200ER, with various seating options including Polaris business class, Premium Plus, Economy Plus, and standard economy.

This new addition brings the total number of nonstop destinations that United offers to and from Barcelona to four, joining existing services from Chicago, Newark, and Washington. However, it’s worth noting that United has never flown this route from San Francisco before. In fact, this is part of United’s plan to operate 30% more flights to Spain in 2024 compared to 2023. The airline will serve five destinations in Spain, including Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, and Tenerife, which are exclusive to United.

While Madrid and Barcelona already have more competition, including from Spanish flag carrier Iberia, United’s hub in San Francisco gives it an advantage in attracting both locals and passengers looking for one-stop options through San Francisco International Airport (SFO). However, Iberia plans to relaunch its service in the market in March 2024, so United will face some competition on this new route.

Interestingly, American Airlines has also announced a new service from its mega-hub in Dallas/Fort Worth to Barcelona for the upcoming summer season. Although the two carriers won’t directly compete in the same market, they will compete for connecting traffic between the West Coast and Barcelona. With both airlines adding capacity, there may be some attractive pricing options in the coming months.

United’s expansion plans to Europe follow its previous announcement in October, where it revealed new routes and destinations, including Faro, Portugal, as well as resuming routes to Reykjavik, Brussels, and Rome. Despite concerns from analysts about transatlantic demand for next summer, United CEO Scott Kirby remains optimistic. He believes that the challenges have been overstated and that there is still strong demand for transatlantic travel.

In conclusion, United Airlines’ decision to add a new long-haul route from San Francisco to Barcelona for the upcoming summer season demonstrates its confidence in transatlantic demand. Despite concerns from analysts about overcapacity, United is expanding its operations to Spain and believes in the strength of transatlantic travel. With competition from other airlines, passengers can expect attractive pricing options in the near future.

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