United Airlines is just one of the many carriers in the United States that was gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the active cases in some of the states in the country are already on a decline, it will still take some time before travel in and out of the US will normalize.
Earlier this week, United Airlines announced its decision to stop flying to 11 small cities across the country starting January. A spokesperson for the company said that there had to consider several factors before they eventually decided to stop their fleets in select destinations.
"Many different factors determine a successful route and our decisions include careful evaluation of our overall network, fleet, resources at our regional partners, and yields. With that in mind, we have determined that these particular routes are not sustainable for the long-term," the airline said in a statement via Deseret News.
Which cities will United Airlines stop catering to?
Prior to the announcement, United Airlines served the different cities through its regional affiliates and from either of its two hubs: Houston and Chicago.
Following their decision to stop serving the 11 cities, the airline promised to help their loyal customers find the best flight options when traveling to their destinations.
The cities that United Airlines will no longer cater to starting January includes Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Michigan, College Station, Texas, Columbia, Missouri, Mosinee, Wisconsin, Evansville, Indiana, Killeen-Fort Hood, Texas, Lansing, Michigan, Monroe, Louisiana, Pierre, South Dakota, Watertown, South Dakota, and Twin Falls, Idaho.
Staff shortage, COVID-19 contributed to airline's decision
According to the Lansing State Journal, there is a possibility that United Airlines had to cancel their flights to the 11 small cities due in part to the pilot shortage. Additionally, there is also a slow return of travelers in the region because of the pandemic.
Reports revealed that several other US-based airlines have been feeling the brunt of the pandemic. Some flights have been delayed or canceled due to staffing and shortage issues.
A study conducted by The Family Vacation Guide revealed that the top three airports dealing with the most amount of delays include Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
US-based airlines have been canceling flights
Last month, Southwest Airlines reportedly canceled more than 2,000 flights in a span of a couple of days due to weather and air traffic control issues. This resulted in a loss of $75 million for the airline on top of their other losses during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, American Airlines canceled a total of 1,058 flights over a four-day period. The cancelation of the flights left passengers stranded at the airport, according to CNN.
Travel returns to normal in the US
But despite all these cancelations, the United States is slowly returning to normal when it comes to travel. The country fully reopened international travel for fully vaccinated residents.
According to The Associated Press, travelers are still required to present their vaccination card and a negative COVID-19 test in order for them to leave the country and reunite with their loved ones.