United shifts ca­pac­ity to its Den­ver hub

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Ali­cia Wal­lace Ali­cia Wal­lace: 303-954-1939, awal­lace@den­ver­post.com or @ali­ci­awal­lace

United Air­lines, Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s largest car­rier, is putting a greater fo­cus on its Mile High hub.

The Chicago-based car­rier is shift­ing some ca­pac­ity — mea­sured by avail­able seat miles, or one seat flown 1 mile — away from the rat­tled en­ergy hub of Hous­ton to grow­ing mar­kets such as Den­ver and San Fran­cisco, ex­ec­u­tives said Wed­nes­day dur­ing the com­pany’s fourth-quar­ter earn­ings call.

“As we all know, there are cer­tain pock­ets of the globe that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing eco­nomic slow­downs,” vice chair­man and chief rev­enue of­fi­cer Jim Comp­ton said dur­ing the call. “We are thought­fully ad­dress­ing those is­sues by repo­si­tion­ing ca­pac­ity to the ar­eas that are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the most eco­nomic growth.”

United is beef­ing up travel to East Coast busi­ness mar­kets from Den­ver and San Fran­cisco. Ear­lier this month, United an­nounced non­stop ser­vice from DIA to Rich­mond, Va., and Hart­ford, Conn.

The ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity in Den­ver likely will come in the form of big­ger planes as op­posed to more flights, DIA of­fi­cials said.

Den­ver will be a key lo­ca­tion for United’s “up-gaug­ing” — mean­ing adding seats to planes or re­plac­ing smaller air­craft with big­ger jets, said Laura Jack­son, DIA’s vice pres­i­dent of air ser­vice de­vel­op­ment. United is go­ing big­ger for flights to such des­ti­na­tions as Char­lotte, N.C., Wash­ing­ton-Rea­gan and Pitts­burgh, she said.

United’s main­line ca­pac­ity is ex­pected to in­crease 18 per­cent in Den­ver in the first six months of 2016, she said. Sys­temwide, United’s in­crease is pro­jected at 4 per­cent.

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