United Airlines is adding flights on 17 routes out of Newark Liberty International (EWR) and shifting some regional-jet routes to its Washington/Dulles International gateway as part of its winter schedule.

The moves add frequency on 15 routes out of EWR; new seasonal nonstop services to Palm Springs, California; and upgrade Key West, Florida, services to year-round. The changes are effective Oct. 4 except for the Palm Springs service, which starts Dec. 19.

“We approached these schedule adjustments with our customers in mind, knowing that we wanted to create a schedule that offers customers beginning their travel in the New York City area convenient flights to many of the business and leisure destinations they frequent the most,” United VP-domestic network Ankit Gupta said. The New York area is the top originating point for United passengers, he added.

The Chicago-based carrier also shifted flights to three markets—Chattanooga, Tennessee; Ithaca, New York; and Scranton, Pennsylvania—from EWR to IAD.

The moves come as United adjusts its network in a bid to boost capacity 4%-6% annually through 2020. United plans to emphasize re-connecting smaller communities to its network, but its latest moves, which add capacity to cities such as Norfolk (Virginia) and Greensboro (North Carolina) as well as mainstays such as Orlando (Florida) and New Orleans (Louisiana), show the carrier also plans to target demand on existing routes. The carrier’s updated full-year 2018 capacity guidance projects a 4.5%-5.5% increase.

Moving a few routes to IAD also taps what the airline acknowledges is an under-utilized asset. 

“Dulles is a great hub,” United chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said last month. “It operates four departure waves per day today, and only one of these departure waves is full from a gate perspective—so there is a lot of opportunity in Dulles. We continue to evaluate exactly how to take advantage of that.”

Re-working its flight banks to increase possible itineraries has been another priority. United reduced its banks at Houston Intercontinental Airport from 10 to eight, adding 21% more itineraries while slightly reducing aircraft movements. Re-banking returns at Chicago and Denver boosted connections 15%, the carrier said.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com