United expands footprint at San Francisco airport

Washington DC
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United Airlines will add gates on the under-renovation boarding area E to its operation at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in 2013, to accommodate growth at the hub following its merger with Continental Airlines last year.

The concourse will include gates 60 to 68 following the renovations of the existing facility and the relocation of gate 68 from the airside of terminal 3 to E, according to the airport. Improvements will also be made to airside gates 69 to 71.

Chicago-based United has used gates 68 to 90 on boarding area F in terminal 3 at SFO for decades.

The airport and United declined to say how many gates the airline will use once the renovations are complete in November 2013, though it will include ones on both E and F.

"United Airlines will be the prominent air carrier but final gate assignments will be determined closer to opening," says the airport regarding the renovated concourse.

United needs the new gates to accommodate growth at the airport, it says in a notice to employees. It will use Continental's former gates 32 to 36 on boarding area B in terminal 1 in the interim.

The number of arrivals on United aircraft increased by 13.1% to 24,831 at SFO during the first quarter compared to the combined numbers for United and Continental during the same period in 2010 prior to the merger, according to airport data. Total passenger traffic on the airline increased by 17.1% to 4.5 million during the same period for the combined carriers.

United announced that it would reduce capacity by 10%, as well as its planned nonstop to Auckland, New Zealand, at its hub at Houston's Intercontinental airport last month. San Francisco could gain some of those flights with the additional gate space.

American Airlines used E until it relocated to boarding area D in terminal 2 last year.