Airlines searching for passengers and much-needed financial stability are switching things up during the coronavirus pandemic to offset the plunge in business travel.
The latest example: United Airlines is beefing up its service to and from Florida this winter with the launch of 13 new nonstop routes from cities it usually doesn’t serve nonstop.
The new cities: Boston; New York LaGuardia (United’s big East Coast hub is in Newark, New Jersey); Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Milwaukee. Flights between Cleveland and four Florida cities are resuming, in some cases with additional flights.
The airline called the move its largest expansion of nonstop service outside of its hubs.
It will face competition from several airlines with a bigger presence in Florida.
Before the recent COVID-19 spike, United’s research showed strong interest in both searches and bookings to Florida.
Travelers have had a “strong preference toward sunshine states in particular, and Florida is definitely top of that list,” said Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning.
Florida is always popular, of course, given its weather and tourist attractions, with three of the top 25 domestic airline routes in the country flights to Florida, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Unlike many tourist destinations in California, some major Florida attractions, including Disney World, have reopened.
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