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United to boost flights to leisure spots, including Hawaii

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United Airlines Holdings Inc. is boosting its schedule in October, including expanding flights to Hawaii, as it seeks to make the most of higher demand for leisure destinations during the pandemic.

The carrier will fly 40% of its schedule from a year earlier, according to a statement today. The plan represents a slight increase from September, when United flew 34% of its year-earlier roster. The increase includes the resumption of eight routes to Hawaii, pending the state’s approval of pre-arrival coronavirus tests it’s mandated for visitors.

International service will remain constrained to one-third of 2019’s schedule because of travel restrictions and self-quarantine measures required by many countries. However, Chicago-based United will resume 14 international routes in October, as well as service to three Mexican destinations — Cancun, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta — from five of its hubs.

Airlines’ October schedules have become a proxy for how the industry sees pandemic-era demand shaping up during a typically slower travel period. Rival American Airlines Group Inc. American Airlines Group Inc. will operate 45% of its October schedule compared with a year earlier and will end service to 15 cities.

United’s recovery to 40% of its year-earlier level is a big improvement from the 11% it operated in May as the world locked down to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“We continue to be data-driven and realistic in our approach to rebuilding our network,” Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of domestic network planning, said in the statement.

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