United Adding Flights to Asia, Dropping NY-London, NY-Tokyo

United Airlines said Friday it is adding 40 weekly flights to Asia and discontinuing flights from New York to London and Tokyo as part of a shift of resources toward more profitable routes across the Pacific.

The second-largest U.S. carrier said more cargo capacity also will be added to its schedule over the next nine months as it strives to improve its bottom line after its first profitable quarter since 2000.

United, a unit of UAL Corp., said the moves will solidify its position as the world's biggest trans-Pacific passenger airline and make better use of its hub airports and Asia Pacific network.

"As we improve our financial performance, we must make certain that we take full advantage of our network strength and fly routes that provide the best revenue opportunities for United and the greatest benefits to our customers," Chief Revenue Officer John Tague said.

The international schedule changes include its first-ever flights between Tokyo's Narita International Airport and its hub at Washington Dulles International Airport, which will replace its Tokyo service from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Also planned are the reinstatement of its daily San Francisco-Taipei flights, expansion of its San Francisco-Seoul service from seasonal to year-round, and the addition of three more weekly flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong.

As part of the changes, United has agreed to sell its New York-London route authority to Delta Air Lines, pending regulatory approval and other conditions. It said it will discontinue its flights from JFK to Heathrow at the end of October.

Atlanta-based Delta, the No. 3 U.S. carrier, said that if the deal is approved it will begin daily round-trip service between JFK and London's Gatwick Airport later this year, with a second flight beginning in spring 2007.

United has been adding international flights and cutting back on some domestic flights, citing increased demand and greater profitability. It also increased passenger service to Asia last year, part of an intensifying competition among U.S. carriers to serve the burgeoning market in China and elsewhere in Asia.

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