United and Houston, one year later

United Airlines is making good on its threat to cut capacity at Houston Intercontinental, one of its largest hubs, finds a new Flightglobal Pro analysis.

Capacity is down 11.4% this month compared to June 2012, Flightglobal/Innovata data shows. The Chicago-based carrier says that capacity is down 6% based on its internal data.

The cuts come a little more than a year after United said that it would cut current and planned capacity at the airport 10% by 2015 in response to the city’s decision to approve an international arrivals facility at Hobby airport in May 2012. The Hobby expansion is backed by competitor Southwest Airlines.

“This will harm us and IAH [Intercontinental], but IAH will continue to be a strong hub for United,” said Jeff Smisek, chief executive of United, at the time. “Unfortunately, the city of Houston will suffer the consequences of this decision for decades to come.”

Flights to Aruba, Asheville, Cedar Rapids, Del Rio, Greensboro, Mazatlan and Paris Charles de Gaulle have been cut, according to Innovata FlightMaps Analytics. Planned service to Auckland was also cancelled.

Houston routes ended by United between June 2012 and June 2013


Innovata Flightglobal Analytics

Houston remains a large hub for United, despite the cutbacks. It was the airline’s third largest behind Newark and San Francisco in terms of available seat kilometres (ASKs) in June, according to Flightglobal/Innovata. It was the second largest a year ago.

United says that it remains committed to Houston, citing Intercontinental’s importance as its primary gateway to Latin America.

In the meantime, Southwest plans to break ground on the $156 million, five-gate international concourse at Hobby in September with opening slated for 2015.

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