Yesterday's Featured Map, Delta's 747s, showed where Delta Air Lines is flying is fleet of 13 Boeing 747-400s at the moment. The only other US operator of passenger 747-400s, United Airlines, makes an interesting contrast and is the subject of today's Featured Map.
United's 747-400 fleet is nearly twice the size of Delta's with 24 aircraft, though one (N194UA) was not upgraded to the current cabin configuration and is dedicated to charters. Delta's only service from the US mainland is from Detroit with three routes to Asia and Japan. United also flies three routes from its nearby hub at Chicago O'Hare, just 204 nm west of Detroit. Two of the three destinations (Tokyo Narita and Shanghai) are the same. United also flies to Beijing from Chicago where's Delta's third 747 destination from Detroit is Seoul.
San Francisco is United's biggest 747-400 hub, however, with six destinations including the three served from Chicago plus Seoul and Hong Kong in Asia. The sixth destination from San Francisco is Frankfurt (cropped off the map), hub to Star Alliance-partner Lufthansa, which also serves the route (with an Airbus A380).
Perhaps more interesting is where United is not flying the 747-400. United's first service with the 747-400 was LAX-SYD but for flights to Sydney United has replaced the 747-400 with Boeing 777-200ERs, from both Los Angeles and San Francisco. United's other service to Australia, LAX-MEL, was the first international route for United's 787-9 Dreamliner. Another of United's long-time 747-400 routes, ORD-HKG, has also converted to a 777-200ER.
Like Delta's winter schedule, United's does not require the full 747-400 fleet. Over a two-week span, one aircraft (N180UA) did not fly and another only flew two trips. With the summer schedule these aircraft should be much busier.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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