Weak Demand Halts United Sonoma County Services

United is dropping services from Sonoma County Airport starting Sunday, November 1st. The decision comes after weak demand from the city, with traffic down 82.6% year-on-year in September. The routes are now suspended until next Spring, when it could return if demand returns as well.

United plane getty
United is halting flights to San Francisco, with Denver previously suspended. Photo: Getty Images

All services suspended

According to The North Bay Business Journal, United was expected to resume its flight from Sonoma County to Denver in October. Instead, the airline announced that it would halt all services to Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport or Santa Rosa Airport (STS). The airline has only been flying the San Francisco-Sonoma County route in the last few months.

Weak demand has driven United to drop the route. The airline only carried 797 passengers from the airport in September, a sharp 82.6% drop in traffic year-on-year (YoY). Load factors also fell to 38%, down from 52%.

United CRJ-550
United only carried 797 passengers from the airport in September. Photo: United Airlines

The decision to drop the routes comes despite an improvement in passenger numbers for the airport overall. The airport saw 17,185 passengers in September, a 69% jump from August’s numbers. Despite this bump, traffic is still down 67.6% year-on-year, likely pushing United to drop the routes for now.

No flights until Spring

The last United flight from the airport is scheduled for 1st November. Flights from Sonoma County are unlikely to return until Spring at the earliest. In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, a United spokesperson said,

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to carefully monitor customer demand and adjust our schedule accordingly. We expect to resume service between Santa Rosa and our hubs in San Francisco and Denver in spring 2021.”

Sonoma County Airport
With United gone until Spring, Sonoma Country passengers will have to fly with Alaskan or American instead. Photo: Getty Images

However, this timeline is also likely dependent on demand and the ongoing impact of COVID-19. We could see this date pushed ahead if demand does not pick up in the coming months. It should be noted that United has not closed its station at the airport, only suspending operations for now.

United’s tough year

United revealed its Q3 results this month, announcing a massive $1.8bn loss and an 80% drop in revenue this quarter. The airline’s loss is greater than it’s Q2 figures, despite lowering cash burn and non-labor operating expenses. However, even with these losses, the airline is hopeful about its future.

United Airlines Boeing 777-300(ER) N2250U
United is predicting that demand will return by 2022, an optimistic timeline.  Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

United now believes the worst of the crisis is now behind it and the coming months will offer a stronger recovery. The airline is also forecasting that demand will return by 2022, assuming that a vaccine is widely available at that point, which would greatly boost demand. Overall, United is hopeful about its future as it looks to emerge from this crisis with a strategic advantage.

What do you think about United’s current plans? Will the airline see a recovery by 2022? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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