Air travel is slowly returning, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to look the same as before. United Airlines, for example, is tweaking its network, adding seven new long-haul routes that didn’t exist pre-pandemic. According to a press release, the airline is adding international flights where demand currently exists, which right now includes Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances, said, “We’re really focused on rethinking the network. We’re not just looking at adding everything back the way it was prior to the coronavirus, and so what we’re looking at trying to do is come up with more convenient travel.”
The three new non-stop routes will operate very regularly starting in the spring of 2021. Accra and Lagos will be served from Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport three times a week, and Johannesburg will be served daily from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.
Last year, United launched the first non-stop flight between the US (Newark Liberty International Airport) and Cape Town in South Africa.
United will also launch two new daily direct routes to India in 2021: to New Delhi from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in the spring and to Bangalore from San Francisco International Airport in the winter of 2020. And for good measure, two new routes to Hawaii will start next summer, from Newark to Maui and from O’Hare to Kona, four times per week.
Despite these encouraging additions, the airline is currently still operating only 30 percent of its total international route network. That’s 25 percent higher than in the spring, though there’s still a long way to go before flight routes resume their pre-COVID-19 schedules.