MIAMI — United Airlines will end service to Greater Binghamton Airport this fall, further drawing down its presence in smaller U.S. airports as it attempts to pare down its fleet of inefficient small regional aircraft. United currently offers two daily roundtrip flights to Binghamton from its Newark hub using 37-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q200 turboprop equipment.
Binghamton joins Elmira, an airport 60 miles west of Binghamton in southern New York State, in losing service from United in calendar year 2016. Elmira was also served with two daily flights using 50-seat Embraer E145 regional jets. But its nonstop link was to United’s hub at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Earlier this month, news broke that United would be pulling out of Santa Maria, a town of about 100,000 located , ending its twice daily nonstop service to San Francisco. United will continue to offer nonstop service to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver at nearby Santa Barbara Municipal Airport
The driver behind United’s route cuts in smaller cities is the planned drawdown of United’s affiliated fleet of sub 50-seat regional jets and turboprops. From a peak of more than 250 frames, United’s current plans for this segment of its regional fleet call for fewer than 100 by 2018. Beyond cities where service has been outright eliminated, United is also cutting frequencies sharply this fall and winter in markets served by smaller jets even if they retain service from other hubs.
Some of these routes, such as Washington Dulles – Portland (ME) are currently loaded as seasonal cuts, but may well evolve into permanent reductions in service.
Cities that are losing service outright do tend to have a common theme — ties to the oil and gas industry. Both Binghamton and Elmira are located near the Marcellus Shale formation, one of America’s largest, so they are prime candidate for reduction in the wake of that industry’s struggles over the past two years. United signaled on its earnings call for the second quarter of 2016 that it was planning more cuts to oil and gas markets – Binghamton is the latest in that trend.