United Airlines will make its final flights in and out of Oakland, California, on June 3, and then it says goodbye. Not to the Bay Area entirely, though – the Chicago-based carrier still has plenty of flights to and from San Francisco (SFO) but its 75 year presence at nearby Oakland (OAK) is done.
United’s Oakland Planes Only 86% Full
It wasn’t much of a presence, at least not lately: United has only one Oakland route left, to and from Denver, and according the news reports, those eleven flights a week were only averaging enough passengers to keep the planes about 86 percent full. For the airline, presumably, that was just too many empty middle seats to be worth it.
Southwest May Pick up the Slack
Passengers who’ve already booked United Denver flights for departures after June 3 will be given the option of transferring the reservation to nearby San Francisco or San Jose airports, or getting a refund. Other carriers are expected to pick up at least some of the slack. Southwest, for example, currently offers more flights between Oakland and Denver than United did, though not all of these are nonstops.
Airlines: Cutting Capacity in Face of High Oil Prices
Many airlines have been cutting back on routes in recent years, most famously American Airlines which is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings, but others have scaled back in part because of the high price of oil and the need to fly full planes to generate enough revenue. When planes have too many empty seats, airlines cut capacity, including the number of seats and sometimes entire routes.