United shifts capacity to its Denver hub
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.