United Airlines has filed an increase to one of its new flights to Africa. The airline will up its three-weekly services from Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Accra’s Kotoka International Airport (ACC) to daily services. The Boeing 787-8 will continue to operate the route, but the added capacity will boost connectivity between the US and West Africa.
United Airlines boosts its flights to Ghana
Schedule updates at Cirium show that United Airlines has filed additional operations between IAD and ACC next year. Starting on May 6th, 2022, the route will be upgraded to daily services. The airline had previously scheduled three weekly services operating on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Flights will depart IAD at 18:30 and arrive the following day in Accra at 08:40. The Africa-bound flight is blocked at ten hours and ten minutes. The return flight will depart ACC at 23:30 and arrive the next morning at 06:50 in Washington D.C. This flight is blocked at 11 hours and 20 minutes. All times are local.
The flight is scheduled to run daily through the end of United’s available schedule. This indicates that United plans to make this a daily flight operated year-round, representing a sizable boost of nearly 1,000 seats per week in each direction.
United will also fly daily flights on this route from December 1st through January 31st. Targeting holiday demand, this was a temporary boost that would return to three times per week service from February.
The Boeing 787-8
United Airlines will continue to fly a Boeing 787-8 on the route. According to the airline, the 787-8s have already all been retrofitted with the airline’s newest onboard products. These aircraft offer 28 lie-flat new Polaris seats. This is in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering every passenger direct aisle access.
United also offers 21 premium economy seats. Branded as Premium Plus, this cabin is an upgraded recliner-style product similar to a domestic first class seat. This cabin is laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration. United offers 36 extra-legroom economy seats, branded as Economy Plus. Lastly, there are 158 standard economy seats. These latter two cabins are in a 3-3-3 configuration.
All passengers onboard the aircraft will be able to access entertainment via on-demand seatback entertainment. WiFi is also available for streaming content on a personal device or surfing the web. Power outlets and USB outlets are available in all cabins.
Growing its presence in Africa
United Airlines is on a roll in 2021 with new routes to Africa. Flights to Accra launched from Dulles in May. Shortly after that, United launched a new nonstop from its Newark (EWR) hub to Johannesburg (JNB). On Monday, November 29th, the airline will move ahead with the planned service launch to Lagos (LOS), also from IAD. All three of these routes were first announced in September 2020.
United Airlines has tried this route before. From 2010 to 2012, the carrier flew the route as part of an international expansion that targeted new markets, including Africa. However, the environment of rising fuel prices and a competitive market led United to cut the route. According to historical data from Cirium, South African Airways also flew the route through 2020, up until the crisis hit and the airline initiated a serious restructuring that led to its abandoning long-haul routes. The airline flew this routing to IAD from JNB with the stop in Accra. This was a fifth freedom flight.
Delta Air Lines continues to fly to Accra from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Both airlines will be flying the route daily next summer. Between local demand and the carrier’s sizeable connecting hub, the airline should be able to fill up its planes, even against Delta. The question will be whether yields are high enough to keep the flight running. With the latest service increase now available for booking, it is looking like the carrier is making a solid bet on the route.