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United drops Newark-San Jose as it cuts margin flying

United Airlines will end its daily service between Newark Liberty and San Jose, California, in October, just a year and a half after entering the market.

The Star Alliance carrier will discontinue the route it serves primarily with a 166-seat Boeing 737-800 on 26 October, after serving the market since March 2017, FlightGlobal schedules data show.

United cites low demand for its decision to end service between Newark and San Jose, the airline says. It continues to serve the Bay Area airport from Chicago O'Hare, Denver and Houston Intercontinental.

The airline followed Alaska Airlines into the Newark-San Jose market, following the Seattle-based carrier's expansion at the New York City-area airport with the removal of federal slot restrictions in October 2016.

Alaska has since complemented its Newark-San Jose service by adding a daily flight from New York John F Kennedy this July. Delta Air Lines launched JFK-San Jose flights in June, and JetBlue Airways also serves the New York-San Jose market.

United operates a large hub at San Francisco International airport, 54km (33.6 miles) northwest of San Jose airport, which it serves from Newark.

In May, the carrier announced plans to deemphasise connections at Newark and instead focus on being New York's "hometown airline" at the airport.

"We're starting down a road here in Newark, while we can't really add more flights because the airport is full, what we can do is upgauge across the board," said Scott Kirby, president of United, in June.

The airline shaved a quarter of a percentage point off of its capacity growth plans for 2018 earlier this month. It now plans to grow by 4.5-5% year-over-year, with Kirby saying it would cut some flights "at the margin" from winter schedules.

Separately, United will add two new routes from its Denver International airport hub this fall. It will begin daily service to Mammoth Lakes, California, with 70-seat Bombardier CRJ700s on 19 December, and twice daily service to Monterey, California, with 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s on 4 October, schedules show.

The Denver-Mammoth Lakes route will operate seasonally though 30 March 2019, according to schedules.

"Both flights represent our commitment to Denver and the importance of offering new destinations to customers originating or connecting in Denver which is an essential hub for United," says United.

United already serves Mammoth Lakes from San Francisco and will add seasonal Los Angeles service in December as well. It serves Monterey from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The carrier is focused on boosting domestic connections over its mid-continent hubs, including Chicago O'Hare, Denver and Houston Intercontinental. It realised some success from this strategy in the second quarter, reporting double-digit unit revenue gains in markets at Chicago and Houston that benefitted from the additional connections.

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