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United adding gates in San Francisco to accommodate growth

United Airlines will start using gates in boarding area A at San Francisco International airport to accommodate its continuing growth.

The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier will begin operating select Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737 family flights from the 12-gate concourse "soon", said Howard Attarian, senior vice-president of flight operations at United, in a newsletter to pilots on 11 August.

The additional gates will allow United to accommodate additional flying and improve operational flexibility at San Francisco, he says.

United has grown aggressively at San Francisco in recent years. In June, it increased service on 18 routes from the airport in response to new competition from Alaska Airlines, which bought Bay Area-based Virgin America in late 2016. It has also added new service to Hartford, Sonoma County and Spokane this year.

The airline is scheduled to operate 203,710 flights this year, up 1.3% compared to 2016, FlightGlobal schedules show.

San Francisco is United's primary gateway to Asia and serves the booming Silicon Valley technology industry.

United has preferential use of at least 37 gates in terminal 3 at San Francisco airport, maps on its website show. This includes the new 10-gate boarding area E that opened in January 2014, and gates 70, 71A and 71B that reopened in late 2015 after nearly three years of construction.

The carrier also utilises the 12-gate boarding area G at San Francisco for international arrivals and departures.

United will primarily use gates in boarding area A for arrivals, though select flights may depart from the concourse at times, says Attarian.

Boarding area A is primarily used by non-Star Alliance international carriers, as well as select domestic flights on Alaska, JetBlue Airways and Hawaiian Airlines.

San Francisco is in the midst of a $2.4 billion redevelopment of terminal 1, which will include a new 24-gate boarding area B and a renovation to boarding area C. The project will open in phases through 2024.

United is the largest airline in San Francisco, with a 43% share of seats during the first seven months of 2017, schedules show. Alaska and Virgin America combined are the second largest carrier with a 13% share.

San Francisco airport declines to comment on the airline's expansion to boarding area A. United was not immediately available.

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