United’s Chicago O’Hare base third biggest in US; London (Ontario) service started this week

Image: President Obama and United Airlines
The Chicago 2016 delegation today makes its final presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with the Host City for the 2016 Olympic Games to be announced this evening. A United Airlines 747, decorated with the Chicago 2016 logo, flew hundreds of supporters to Copenhagen to hear the announcement. President Barack Obama, former Senator for Illinois, made an impassioned speech to the IOC in support of the Chicago bid.

United’s base at Chicago O’Hare is the third biggest in terms of weekly seat capacity of any US airline (after Delta at Atlanta and American at Dallas/Fort Worth), with the airline offering non-stop flights to 133 destinations. These routes account for almost 50% of all flights from the airport with American Airlines’ network generating a further 37% of movements. No other carrier has more than 2% of flights at the Illinois airport which, despite a drop in passenger numbers of almost 9%, was still the US’ second busiest in 2008 with over 69 million passengers.

Five routes added, four dropped

During the last 12 months United has adjusted frequencies and capacity on many routes but overall, according to OAG schedule data, the number of flights is down just 1.1% while seat capacity has been reduced by 2.7%.

New routes Bismarck (7w), El Paso (14w), Huntsville (14w), Little Rock (20w), Saskatoon (7w)
Dropped routes Bloomington-Normal (18w), Casper (6w), Kalamazoo (16w), San Jose SJC (7w)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 1 September 2008 and w/c 7 September 2009

Five new destinations have been added; four domestic routes to Bismarck, El Paso, Huntsville and Little Rock and a new daily service to Saskatoon in Canada. Four destinations have been dropped from the schedules including daily flights to San Jose in California.

New York and Washington are top routes

Measured by weekly departures New York LaGuardia and Washington Reagan (National) are the top two routes with over 90 weekly departures. New York Newark and Washington Dulles also make the list of the top 12 routes served by United from O’Hare.

Chart: Top 12 routes
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 September 2009

Among the top 12 routes (in terms of frequency) just three have an average aircraft size of less than 70 seats. Indianapolis (63 seats), St Louis (62) and Madison (54) are served by smaller regional aircraft. Madison (in neighbouring Wisconsin) is just 175 kilometres away.

Toronto and London lead international capacity rankings

United serves a total of 23 international destinations from O’Hare; 10 in Canada plus Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Beijing, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Amsterdam, San Jose (Puerto Rico) and London Heathrow. Of these the Toronto route has the most weekly seat capacity.

Chart: Global reach
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 September 2009

The top 10 international routes (ranked on seat capacity) are shared between Asia (four routes), Canada (three routes) and Europe (three routes). This week sees the launch of an eleventh Canadian destination. London (the one in Ontario) will be served twice daily using a CRJ 200.


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