Shuttle by United will begin service at Spokane International Airport on Oct. 31, adding another low-fare carrier to the competition mix in the Spokane air travel market.
Shuttle by United, a sister company to United Airlines, joins Southwest Airlines and Horizon Air as short-haul, low fare specialists.
Existing United Airlines flights between Spokane and San Francisco are being switched to Shuttle by United. The route, as before, will be served with three departures a day.
Although Southwest offers a direct flight to Oakland, Shuttle by United will offer the only direct flights available from Spokane to San Francisco.
“There are certain criteria we are trying to follow in making the switch from United to Shuttle by United,” Tony Molinaro, a United Airlines spokesman, said Monday.
The switch is also being made in Boise, Eugene and Medford, Ore., Salt Lake City and Santa Barbara, Calif. All of these cities are “low-fare environments” in which United Airlines is either losing money or only earning a small profit, Molinaro said.
By switching to the lower-cost Shuttle by United, the company is betting it can fill enough seats to increase profits even at low-fare prices.
“We’ve learned how to make money with the lower costs of our Shuttle operation,” Molinaro said. “It’s profitable for us, and at the same time, the consumer gets consistently low fares.”
Shuttle by United uses Boeing 737 jets, and offers a first-class service option, although the vast majority of the seats will be sold for about $63 one-way on the Spokane-San Francisco route, he said.
United Airlines, meanwhile, will retain its operations in Spokane, continuing its daily flights to Denver and Chicago.
“We think this is a very good deal for Spokane,” said Todd Woodward, spokesman for Spokane International Airport. “They are flying almost identical equipment offered by United, but at a lower cost.”
Shuttle by United was founded two years ago. The airline offers service to 18 cities in the western United States.
Driven primarily by intense low-far competition, Spokane International Airport has experienced a phenomenal growth in passenger activity over the past four years.