By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL (Reuters) - United Airlines on Thursday will announce three new daily routes to Europe as the third largest U.S. carrier eyes higher-paying business travelers on transatlantic flights.
The increase in transatlantic capacity comes as part of a broader company strategy that includes growing the margin-rich business-class service, Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of international network, said in a telephone interview from Montreal.
"We're eyeing the business traveler, and Europe is doing very well for us," Quayle said without offering further details.
United's larger rivals American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are also adding flights to Europe next year, even as they scale back 2018 growth plans to preserve passenger fares in the face of soaring fuel costs.
Earlier this year, United cut its 2018 plans for capacity growth to a rate of between 4.5 percent and 5 percent. It had previously forecast a range of between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent.
In 2019, United will add summer service from Newark, New Jersey, to Prague and Naples, and year-round flights from San Francisco to Amsterdam, the carrier said in the release.
Delta said earlier this month it would add new flights to Asia while American Airlines said it would drop a route between Chicago and Shanghai because of competition and high fuel costs.
United does not currently expect to add or cut flights to Asia, Quayle said. "We're not making any adjustments at this time."
(Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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