United Airlines – the wholly owned subsidiary of United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL - Analyst Report) – has launched its non-stop summer service between Chicago and Edinburgh, as announced previously in Sep 2013. The flight marks the first non-stop scheduled commercial service between the two cities and will run till Oct 5, 2014.
Initially, United Airlines plans to run five flights every week between May 22 and June 11 and then move on to operating daily flights between Jun 12 and Sep 1. Thereafter, frequency will drop to four flights a week between Sep 2 and Oct 5. United Airlines is using The Boeing Company’s (BA - Analyst Report) narrow bodied 757-200 aircraft with 169 seats including 16 flat-bed options.
The east bound flights will depart Chicago at 6 pm local time and will take 7 hours 45 minutes to reach Edinburgh, while the flights to Chicago will take 50 minutes more. According to United Airlines, the flights are strategically timed to allow passengers to connect with 125 different destinations across the Americas. Notably, United Airlines currently operates non-stop flights between New York and Edinburgh, having initiated operations in 1998.
Meanwhile, this new airline service will not only enhance passenger count but will also increase the transatlantic offering at Scotland’s busiest airport.
The addition of this new route comes as a strategic move given that airline traffic flow is expected to increase in Scotland as the country is set to host two popular sporting extravaganzas – the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup in 2014. We believe United Airlines wants to tap this opportunity by allowing more U.S. visitors to avail the non-stop flight service between Edinburgh and Chicago.
Such long haul routes provide United Airlines the impetus to improve its traffic and capacity, thus boosting the company’s performance. However, American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL - Analyst Report)-owned U.S. Airways Inc.’s recently launched inaugural flight to Edinburgh from Philadelphia could lure away some of United Airlines’ potential Scotland-bound passengers. Further, United Airlines faces stiff completion in the trans-Atlantic route owing to Virgin Atlantic’s tie up with Delta Airline Inc. (DAL - Analyst Report), which has extended the latter’s network presence within the route.
United Continental currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).