United continues to prune its European network.

Following hard on the heels of the ending of Belfast-New York Newark services, comes news today that the US carrier’s seasonal Manchester-Washington DC service will not go ahead in summer 2017.

According to airline analysts this Washington DC route, launched in 2010, has been a challenge for United.

It appeals mainly to outbound regional UK travellers and, following Sterling’s decline against the US dollar, United believes that the (outbound UK) market will not perform well next year.

Airline analyst John Strickland tweeted, “Some UK regional US routes proving challenging due post Brexit exchange volatility & reliance on UK demand.”

Both routes were originally started by US airline Continental (later to be taken over by United) using narrow-bodied B757s for transatlantic service.

Continental started these flights to provide transatlantic service to numerous secondary destinations throughout the UK, mainland Europe and Scandinavia.

At the time it was seen as a cost-effective way to provide air service to less busy regional destinations.

But over the past few years a number of these routes have been withdrawn because they were underperforming (examples include Stuttgart, Cologne and Dusseldorf) while United recently announced the suspension of Munich-Houston and Hamburg-New York Newark between January and Spring 2017.

In a statement issued today the airline said:

“United will discontinue its service between Manchester and Washington (Dulles). This service is currently suspended for the winter season and will not return on April 7, 2017 as previously planned. We have regretfully taken this decision because of the route’s poor financial performance.”

United’s cutbacks also reflect the looming transatlantic overcapacity situation which will appear in 2017.

Many more transatlantic flights will be launched next year by budget and conventional carriers from the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Most will be non-stop but some are indirect and involve routings via Iceland.

Examples include:


One wonders whether sufficient passengers can be found to support this massive capacity increase.