United Airlines will shift its fleet of Boeing 767-400ER aircraft to its Newark Liberty International airport hub from October, to address continuing issues with its flight attendant groups.

The Chicago-based carrier operates its 16 767-400ERs from primarily its Newark and Washington Dulles International airport hubs, FlightGlobal schedules show.

With the shift to Newark, United will replace the aircraft with 767-300ERs on flights from Washington Dulles in its winter schedule beginning 29 October, said the airline's vice-president of inflight operations John Slater in a letter to flight attendants on 10 August.

Continental Airlines-legacy cabin crews will work the 767-400ERs from Newark and United-legacy crews will work the 767-300ERs from Washington Dulles, he says.

"This additional flying means that we will be able to help reduce senior flight attendants being on reserve while adding flying positions," says Slater. "While this isn't the most cost-efficient way to fly the schedule, it's just the right thing to do."

United has faced flight attendant seniority issues since it merged with Continental in 2010. The groups worked separately, with some United crews moved to former Continental hubs and vice versa, immediately following the merger until a joint contract was ratified in August 2016.

This saw younger crews on one contract able to hold more desirable flights due to the various discrepancies between the staffing levels flying available to that flight attendant group.

United is unable to fully integrate the groups, which also include former Continental Micronesia flight attendants, until a new crew management system is implemented in October 2018.

The 767 fleet shifts, as well as crew staffing at some of United's other hubs, aim to alleviate staffing issues during the interim, says Slater.

Despite the move to the smaller 214-seat 767-300ER from the 242-seat 767-400ER out of Washington Dulles, United's seat capacity at the airport will increase 0.3% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, schedules show. This is largely driven by the previously-announced plan to move Boeing 787 flying to Dulles from Houston Intercontinental in the winter schedule.

The airline will reduce 767 seats by 18.1% but increase 787 seats nearly four-fold during the period, according to the schedules.

At Newark, United will increase the number of 767 seats by 3.1% and overall seat capacity by 5.1% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, the schedules show.

Source: Cirium Dashboard