United Airlines will cut two daily flights from Buffalo to Washington, D.C., starting Nov. 1, as part of its corporate cost-reduction efforts.
The airline also confirmed it has furloughed Buffalo-based employees as part of its cost-cutting steps, but could not provide a local count of affected workers.
Starting next month, United will offer four nonstop daily flights to Washington's Dulles International Airport, down from the current six flights. It also will rearrange the bulk of its remaining Buffalo-Dulles schedule.
As of Nov. 1, United flights will leave Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 7 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 6:05 p.m. Currently, flights depart Buffalo for Washington at 7 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:55 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:20 p.m.
The airline also will redraw and reduce its incoming Dulles service to Buffalo, cutting back from six flights to five. The new schedule will include Buffalo-bound flights arriving at 10:05 a.m., 2:02 p.m., 4:57 p.m., 6:17 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. The greatest impact will be on business travelers, who lose an early-morning and a late-night flight in the new schedule.
"The reason we're doing all this is that passenger demand has softened quite a bit since Sept. 11," said United spokesman Joe Hopkins.
United is the only airline currently offering direct flights from Buffalo to Dulles. US Airways, Southwest, Northwest and Delta offer nonstop and connecting service to Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport and the Baltimore Washington International Airport.
United announced earlier this month that its financial problems, compounded by the post-Sept. 11 drop in passengers, forced it to trim about 200 flights starting next month, a move that affects about 5 million fliers holding tickets on flights through early January.
The Chicago-based airline also is reconfiguring its service from Buffalo to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, going from four daily flights using three large-format planes and one commuter jet, to a five-flight schedule using two large planes and three commuter planes. The number of daily nonstop United flights from O'Hare to Buffalo will be cut from five to four.
Virginia-based Atlantic Coast Airlines, flying under the United Express banner, will provide the regional jet service.
Airport officials anticipate the loss of another 11 flights, including United's, in the weeks ahead as airlines make adjustments to reflect their passenger loads and financial situations. On the bright side, JetBlue, which was the first to cut flights on Oct. 1, has resumed full service and is considering adding flights to meet increased demand.