Chicago-based United Airlines will adjust its flight banks at Denver International Airport (DEN) early next year, creating a larger first bank that targets business travelers.

The new schedule, loaded in early October and effective Feb. 14, results in United’s daily DEN schedule being spread over nine departure banks, down from 10.

The most significant change is an early-morning first bank that starts at 7:50 a.m. local time with 61 departures to both the east and west. The new bank will be the airline's largest at DEN with omni-directional departures, a United spokesperson confirmed. 

Creating a larger first bank with flights in all directions will appeal to both local business travelers as well as those that need to connect through Denver. 

“United’s optimized schedule allows us to offer our Denver-area customers more flights and greater access to more destinations than ever before,” United VP-domestic network planning Ankit Gupta said.

The revised schedule includes new daily nonstop service between DEN and Charleston, South Carolina and Eureka, California, and seasonal summer service between DEN and Fairbanks. United’s peak summer 2019 schedule is slated to have nearly 500 daily departures from DEN, up from about 470 this past summer.

The DEN changes are part of United’s larger strategy to drive more traffic through its hubs, and do it more efficiently. It has added flights from smaller communities into its hubs to help increase hub flow. While its focus has been on its so-called mid-continent hubs in Chicago, Denver, and Houston, it has also made changes elsewhere. At its congested Newark hub, for example, it is dropping connecting traffic in favor of origin-and-destination flying, sending more feeder flights from smaller east coast cities to its Washington Dulles hub.

Re-banking predates the hub-flow strategy, but is complementary. Earlier this year, the airline reported that going to eight banks from 10 at Houston Intercontinental Airport added 21% more itineraries while slightly reducing aircraft movements.

The re-banking is a shift for United, which not too many years ago emphasized a strategy that featured smaller banks, or none at all. But United president Scott Kirby spearheaded a successful re-banking campaign when he held the same title at American Airlines.

Kirby jumped from American to United two years ago.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com