United Unveils New Routes, Merger 'Optimization'

United announced 19 new routes expected to launch in 2011, focusing on expansion from the airline's hubs. In a release, the airline says the new routes are the beginnings of its plan to "optimize the combined route networks of United Airlines and Continental Airlines." Some of the routes will initially be operated by Continental and will be incorporated by the merged brand over time.

Here are the new routes:

Continental

  • Houston to Bakersfield; Palm Springs; Cedar Rapids; Grand Junction, Colorado; Hobbs, New Mexico; Montreal; Reno
  • Cleveland to Cincinnati
  • Newark to Des Moines

United

  • Washington (Dulles) to Louisville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and Grand Cayman (subject to government approval)
  • Denver to Amarillo, Dallas (Love Field), and Lubbock
  • Los Angeles to Austin
  • San Francisco to New Orleans

As USA Today's Ben Mutzabaugh points out, the most interesting route on here is probably Denver to Dallas's Love Field Airport, home to Southwest. Mutzabaugh notes, "Love Field, of course, is subject to the Wright Amendment, which until 2014 restricts flights from that airport to Texas and a handful of nearby states. Normally, nonstop flights to Denver would be prohibited under the Wright Amendment, though United might be able to skirt that by flying smaller aircraft on the route. The Wright Amendment does not apply to flights operated by flights with 56 or fewer seats."

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Denver has lately been a focus city for Southwest, so adding nonstop service between the Mile High City and Southwest's home base is a fairly direct jab at United's low-cost rival. Southwest cannot match the route because its aircraft exceed the size restrictions imposed by the Wright Amendment.

Readers, where would you like to see the new United fly?

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