United Airlines plans to beef up its schedule and add new lounges at Denver International Airport, the carrier’s bet that demand for flights at its fastest-growing hub will keep rising.
United said Tuesday that it will add 35 flights at the Colorado airport this year. New nonstop routes include service to Greensboro, North Carolina; Dayton, Ohio; Lexington, Kentucky; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airline’s Denver service this summer will average 450 daily departures, a spokeswoman said.
United was the airport’s largest carrier last year with 46% market share, compared with Southwest Airlines‘ 31% share, Frontier Airlines with 10%, Delta Air Lines with 5% and American Airlines with 4%, according to airport data.
But its new service comes as shifting travel patterns during the pandemic are forcing airlines to rethink their networks and where to best deploy planes, which are in short supply.
Airport passenger traffic expanded rapidly during the pandemic as the city grew and travelers sought outdoor destinations amid restrictions aimed at stopping Covid-19 from spreading. Last year, the Denver airport handled a record of more than 69 million passengers, making it the world’s third busiest, up from 16th in 2019, according to Airports Council International.
In comparison, San Francisco, another United hub, which enjoyed a corporate travel business before the pandemic, served 57.5 million passengers in 2019 and just 42.3 million last year.
United is also slated to open a new lounge and reopen one of two large remodeled clubs the latest sign of airlines scrambling to make room for scores of high-spending travelers.
Last year, United opened a grab-and-go mini lounge at Denver aimed at travelers connecting to other flights.