United to Boost Thanksgiving Week Flights on Late Demand Uptick

United Airlines Holdings Inc. plans to add 1,400 flights and will prepare to use larger aircraft during Thanksgiving week, responding to late demand for travel.

The week of November 23 is expected to be United’s busiest for traffic since March, the airline said Monday. The Chicago-based carrier also plans to add about 200 extra flights on peak travel days in December.

Half of its Thanksgiving customers are buying tickets less than 30 days before the holiday, up from about 40% last year, United said. The airline will monitor bookings “in real-time to swap in larger aircraft when needed to accommodate last-minute demand.”

United’s Thanksgiving week scheduling was planned before Pfizer Inc. reported widely successful results for a Covid-19 vaccine, driving aviation shares and the broader market sharply higher. United jumped 15% to $39.73 at 11:21 a.m. in New York after surging 27%, the most intraday in seven months.

Part of the late demand for holiday travel is driven by fares that are substantially lower than typical as airlines desperately try to fill seats during the coronavirus pandemic. Passenger volumes are less than 40% of last year’s levels. United plans to fly 49% and 52% of its November and December 2019 domestic schedules, respectively.

JetBlue Airways Corp. on Nov. 6 said it would add extra flights on 25 routes from three New York-area airports to meet developing demand.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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