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United exits two more Guam routes as demand falls

United Airlines will end service to Sendai and Shanghai Pudong from its Guam hub in the coming months, the latest in a series of cuts to its Micronesia operation.

The Star Alliance carrier will end service from Guam to Sendai on 1 April and Shanghai Pudong on 22 March, United confirms and FlightGlobal schedules show.

"Guam remains an important hub for United," the airline says. "We are adjusting the capacity between Guam and Japan/China in response to the current weak demand for travel."

Guam saw visitor numbers from Japan plummet in late 2017. For the three months ending in November, Japanese visitor arrivals fell nearly a third to 122,705 year over year, data from the Guam Visitors Bureau shows.

“[Fiscal year 2018] is off to a rough start with the North Korea news," said Nathan Denight, president and chief executive of the visitors bureau, in October 2017. "[The Guam Visitors Bureau] is working hard with our government and tourism partners to overcome the challenges in our core markets."

United will also reduce capacity on routes to Japan it continues to operate from Guam. It will shift all three of its daily Tokyo Narita flights to 166-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft from early May, replacing 364-seat Boeing 777-200s on two of the three rotations.

In addition, the airline will reduce frequency to Nagoya and Osaka Kansai to daily from twice daily on 27 March.

United is scheduled to reduce Guam capacity by 16.7% in the first half of 2018 compared to 2017, schedules show. Capacity to Japan will be down more than a quarter.

"As Guam's hometown airline, we remain committed to doing our part in supporting the local economy and we look forward to an increase in demand so we can return to our normal flight schedules," the carrier says.

United's latest Guam reductions follow the end of Sapporo service this month and the shift of three 737s from the Micronesia fleet to the US mainland in November 2017.

Howard Attarian, senior vice-president of flight operations at United, told pilots in April 2017 that the fleet reduction was part of the airline's push to expand its US domestic network through increased aircraft utilisation.

United has not said whether it will shift additional aircraft to the US mainland with the latest reductions.

The Chicago-based carrier is the largest in Guam, with a 46% share of seats at the airport in 2017, schedules show.

United is not alone. Delta Air Lines ended service to Guam this month, citing weak demand.

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