United cuts Venezuela and boosts Guam flights

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United Airlines will reduce frequency on its route between Houston Intercontinental and Caracas, Venezuela, in September, joining other major carriers in reducing their schedules as the country’s foreign exchange issues continue.

The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier will operate the Houston-Caracas route four-times weekly instead of once daily on a Boeing 737-700 from 16 September, it says in an employee newsletter on 11 July.

American Airlines cut 38 of its 48 weekly flights to Venezuela on 1 July and Delta Air Lines will reduce its daily Caracas service to once weekly on 1 August.

United had about $100 million in cash in Venezuela bolivars that it is seeking to repatriate at the end of March.

In addition to the Caracas cuts, the airline plans to add new daily service between Guam and Seoul Incheon on a 737-800 from 27 October. It will also launch previously disclosed twice-weekly Guam-Shanghai Pudong service on a 737 from 28 October.

"The increased focus on attracting Chinese tourism to Guam provides an opportunity for us to serve a new customer base," says Kevin Peters, Pacific network planning senior manager at United, in the newsletter. "While the Guam­Shanghai service will begin operating twice per week, we are hopeful that it will prove successful enough to warrant increases over time.”

He adds that the new Seoul route utilises an otherwise idle aircraft.

Jeju Air, Jin Air and Korean Air all fly between Guam and Seoul Incheon, Innovata schedules show. No airlines fly between Guam and Shanghai Pudong.

United will temporarily reduce the schedules on its Houston Intercontinental-Tokyo Narita and Newark-Lima routes to account for lower seasonal demand. The former will operate 10-times weekly instead of twice daily from 26 October through the beginning of the northern summer season in 2015, and the latter will operate three-times weekly instead of five times from 29 September to 15 December and again from 13 January 2015 to 4 March 2015.

The carrier will also operate its planned Saturday-only seasonal Washington Dulles-Los Cabos flight from 20 December through 2 May 2015.

The carrier continues to focus on optimising its route network, as part of a larger $2 billion programme to reduce costs. This included the move to close its hub at Cleveland Hopkins International airport in June.