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United cites demand in move to end three regional routes

United Airlines will end service to three US destinations from its Chicago O'Hare hub in September, citing low demand on the routes.

The Star Alliance carrier will end service to Champaign/Urbana in Illinois, Manchester in New Hampshire, and Mobile in Alabama from Chicago, FlightGlobal schedules show and United confirms. All three routes are flown on 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 or Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets.

"Due to low demand for travel between Chicago and Champaign, Manchester and Mobile, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue United Express service to these markets from Chicago," says United.

The airline adds that the cancellations will allow it to "focus on higher-performing markets".

Champaign airport executive director Gene Cossey told local media on 2 July that United's exit from the market was due to pilot staffing, an issue that regional airlines face nationally.

The carrier does not respond to Cossey's comments, but has previously said that it has enough pilots to meet its 4.5-5.5% capacity growth plans for 2018.

United began service to Champaign in 2017 as part of its on-going domestic growth push to recapture what executives see as its "natural share" of the US domestic market. It plans to grow capacity by another 4-6% annually in 2019 and 2020.

The airline will continue to serve Manchester from Newark, and Mobile from Houston Intercontinental.

American Airlines will continue to serve the Chicago O'Hare-Champaign route, schedules show. Southwest Airlines flies between nearby Chicago Midway and Manchester.

Separately, United will add new seasonal service to Mammoth Lakes, California, and Sun Valley, Idaho, from its Los Angeles hub this winter. The airline will offer once daily service on both routes with Mammoth flights beginning 1 December and Sun Valley flights 19 December, schedules show.

United will operate a 70-seat Bombardier CRJ700 on the Los Angeles-Mammoth Lakes route, and a 76-seat Embraer 175 on the Los Angeles-Sun Valley route.

The airline will compete with Alaska Airlines on both Los Angeles routes, and with Delta Air Lines on Los Angeles-Sun Valley, schedules show.

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