United Airlines will operate at 91% of its 2019 domestic capacity in December to meet an expected surge in holiday travel demand. Photo courtesy of United Airlines
Oct. 7 (UPI) -- United Airlines is gearing up to meet an anticipated busy holiday travel season with its largest schedule since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chicago-based company announced Thursday that it will operate more than 3,500 daily domestic flights in December, amounting to 91% of its 2019 capacity.
The schedule includes new flights between the Midwest and travel destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. The airlines also is offering 70 daily flights to ski destinations, including new service between Orange County, Calif., and Aspen, Colo.
Searches for holiday flights on the company's website and app are up 16% compared with 2019, the company said.
"We're seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow," Ankit Gupta, United's vice president of network planning and scheduling, said in a statement.
"We know families and friends are eager to reunite this holiday season, which is why we're thrilled to add new flights that will help them connect and celebrate together."
New direct flights are being added from Cleveland to Las Vegas and Phoenix and from Indianapolis to Orlando. The December schedule includes 195 daily flights to 12 destinations in Florida.
On Monday, the International Airport Association reported that the industry is expected to cut losses by 78% in 2022 as it recovers from the pandemic. It estimates $11.6 billion in net losses among some 290 airlines, down from $51.8 billion in estimated 2021 losses.
United Airlines was among the first companies to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. The company has since reported that 99.5% of its 67,000 employees have met the requirement.
President Joe Biden was scheduled to travel to Chicago on Thursday to tout the benefit of vaccine mandates.