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United Returns to Shanghai, Cuts August Increases

Carrier pulls back on plans to boost capacity, says the reduced schedule may remain through the end of 2020

July 7, 2020

Beginning July 8, United Airlines is resuming service to China with service between San Francisco and Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. The twice-weekly service will operate via Seoul Incheon International Airport aboard a Boeing 777-300ER on Wednesdays and Saturdays, returning to San Francisco on Thursdays and Sundays.

The airline suspended the service to Shanghai in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, United was the largest US carrier serving China and operated five daily flights between Shanghai and its hubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York/Newark.

In addition, United has also announced it will reinstate service between Chicago and Tokyo with new service to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, as well as resuming service to Seoul and Hong Kong and will fly to Singapore via a stop at Hong Kong.

United backtracked on plans announced just last week to boost August flight schedules, saying it was cutting back as a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country had reduced travel demand. The carrier told employees this week that it expected to fly about 35 percent as many flights next month as it did in August 2019, down from the 40 percent it projected a week ago, according to a securities filing.

According to the filing, United may hold capacity at August levels through the end of the year. Bookings for upcoming flights at the airline’s Newark hub, for example, had started to recover in the first half of June only to reverse course after Connecticut, New Jersey and New York said on June 24 they would require travelers visiting from states with rising infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.