United speeds domestic aircraft redeployment

Washington DC
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United Airlines has sped up aircraft redeployment at some of its domestic hubs, as it hopes to increasingly capitalise on revenue synergies from its merger with Continental Airlines.

The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier redeployed aircraft at its Chicago O'Hare, San Francisco and Washington Dulles hubs in September, says James Compton, chief revenue officer of United, during an earnings call on 25 October.

San Francisco to Washington National and Denver to Chicago are some examples of routes where aircraft have been redeployed. Continental metal Boeing 737s are now flying on both routes, which are from United legacy hubs.

Aircraft redeployment is key for United to realise many of the benefits from its 2010 merger with Continental. While it has occurred on a limited basis, the operational issues and system stresses that caused it to report lacklustre second and third quarter results have stymied the process.

"In part due to the lower than expected redeployment rollout, our revenue synergy realisation has been slower than we initially targeted," says Compton. "Now that we restored our operational performance to expected levels, we're confident that revenue synergies will accelerate in 2013."

He says that the airline hopes to begin realising the $700 million to $800 million in revenue benefits from the merged networks in 2013.

United has opened Continental 737 crew bases at Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, and a United Airbus A320 family and Boeing 757 crew base at Houston Intercontinental, it says. These bases will further enable the redeployment of aircraft across its network.

Howard Attarian, vice-president of flight operations of the airline, said in August that it was also planning to open a Continental Boeing 767 crew base in Denver.