HEBRON, Ky. – United Airlines will begin new nonstop service between the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and a popular West Coast destination starting next summer.
CVG officials confirmed Monday that United will add direct flights to San Francisco come June 2017.
It's a key connection for several reasons – and one the airport has been working hard to add. United currently flies to five of its seven U.S. hubs from CVG; San Francisco was considered the biggest missing link. While it pits the carrier head-to-head with Delta, it gives business travelers another one-stop link to the Asia Pacific.
“United has seen significant growth at CVG over the last three years,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer at CVG. “Since 2013, United’s passenger boardings have grown more than 44 percent as a result of expanded schedules and placement of larger aircraft.
"This new service will offer tremendous convenience and value for travelers," she added, "including a great schedule to San Francisco as well as one-stop connections to 30 other destinations including Singapore, Sydney, Australia, Auckland, New Zealand and many popular Asia destinations."
San Francisco is a top six revenue market for CVG – behind Los Angeles (LAX), LaGuardia, Boston, Las Vegas (LAS) and Orlando, respectively – and is the airport's 13th largest passenger market. Travelers pay around $270 each way to connect between the two destinations. Currently, only Delta offers daily nonstop service to SFO, although Frontier recently launched its own service to SFO this spring with three flights each week.
As of July, the route was running with a nearly 85 percent load factor, or capacity. And in terms of leakage, or the number of area passengers CVG loses to other airports, like Dayton, Columbus or Indianapolis, it's around 50 per day to SFO. Both are significant selling points, CVG officials have said.
"What we've pointed out to United is, there is more opportunity to be had," Bobby Spann, CVG's vice president of external affairs, told Kenton County Airport Board members recently.
United obviously agreed. The route will launch June 8, 2017, via a 128-seat Airbus A319. Flights to SFO will depart from CVG at 7 p.m. and arrive at 9:20 p.m. The return flight departs San Francisco at 10:40 a.m. and arrives in Cincinnati at 6:10 p.m.
“Linking CVG to United’s hub in San Francisco has been a priority for us, and it’s great to see that goal accomplished,” said J. Michael Schlotman, Kenton County Airport Board Chairman. “We’re pleased United is growing their network at CVG and that both corporate and leisure travelers will have another high-quality nonstop option to the west coast.”
While CVG recently introduced a new incentive program, which offers airlines marketing dollars and waives certain fees starting Jan. 1, that was not included as part of this new service, CVG spokeswoman Mindy Kershner told WCPO. She said United made the decision based on the "strength of the market, their growth in the Cincinnati area and the strategic opportunity to link CVG to their major west coast hub."