The news isn’t getting any better for small U.S. cities, which continue to shoulder much of the burden of pandemic-era airline schedule changes.
Over the weekend, United Airlines filed plans to drop two more markets from its network: Erie, Pennsylvania, and Springfield, Illinois, as first seen in Cirium schedules and later confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.
Historically, United Express affiliate SkyWest Airlines has operated flights to both cities from Chicago. Now, the airline plans to stop serving Erie on June 1, 2023, and Springfield on May 31, 2023.
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In a milquetoast statement confirming the move, a carrier spokesperson added that “United has made the difficult decision to suspend service between Chicago O’Hare and Erie, Pennsylvania and Springfield, Illinois starting June 2; we’re proactively reaching out to impacted customers to discuss their options.”
Fortunately for flyers headed to or from these markets, other airlines will maintain flights to Erie and Springfield. The former will still be served by American Airlines, which offers two daily flights from Charlotte.
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Meanwhile, American is slated to begin twice-daily service from Chicago to Springfield on June 1. (Until now, the airline flew from Dallas/Fort Worth to the Illinois capital.) Allegiant Air also flies to Springfield from Punta Gorda, Florida.
The pandemic and its after-effects have caused many major airlines to experience staffing shortages, particularly in their pilot ranks. The pilot shortage has been especially challenging for regional affiliates that have historically served as a stepping stone for budding aviators looking to jump-start their careers and eventually work at major U.S. carriers.
Airlines are working hard to develop a pipeline of future pilots, but the shortage isn’t something that can be fixed overnight. Faced with no other choice, carriers have resorted to pulling out of small cities.
In fact, SkyWest warned roughly a year ago that it would need to drop up to 29 cities because of the pilot shortage. Even though service to Erie and Springfield was operated by Skywest, these two cities weren’t on the airline’s preliminary list of cuts.
Since the pandemic began, American, Delta and United have together pulled out of a whopping 69 U.S. cities, according to network analysis conducted by aviation consulting firm Ailevon Pacific. Of the Big Three U.S. airlines, United has garnered the most headlines for what’s been a major pullback in regional connectivity — now at 38 markets nationwide.
This includes a mix of cities like Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Lansing, Michigan; and Santa Rosa, California. The cuts even extend outside the continental U.S. to Hilo, Hawaii, and you’ll find the full list below.
United’s 38 city cuts during the pandemic
Below you’ll find a list of all the U.S. cities that United has exited during the pandemic, according to Cirium and Ailevon Pacific data.
- Abilene, Texas.
- Alamosa, Colorado.
- Alexandria, Louisiana.
- Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
- Clarksburg, West Virginia.
- College Station, Texas.
- Columbia, Missouri.
- Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
- Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
- Erie, Pennsylvania.
- Evansville, Indiana.
- Everett/Paine Field, Washington.
- Flagstaff, Arizona.
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
- Hilo, Hawaii.
- Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan.
- Kearney, Nebraska.
- Killeen/Fort Hood, Texas.
- Lansing, Michigan.
- Lewisburg, West Virginia.
- Monroe, Louisiana.
- Muskegon, Michigan.
- Ogdensburg, New York.
- Paducah, Kentucky.
- Pierre, South Dakota.
- Plattsburgh, New York.
- Pueblo, Colorado.
- Rochester, Minnesota.
- San Angelo, Texas.
- Santa Rosa, California.
- Springfield, Illinois.
- Staunton/Waynesboro, Virginia.
- Stockton, California.
- Tallahassee, Florida.
- Texarkana, Arkansas.
- Twin Falls, Idaho.
- Watertown, South Dakota.
- Wausau, Wisconsin.