United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare) may relocate some B737s from their base in Guam International to Tokyo Narita, according to Patrick Quayle, United’s senior vice president of global network planning and alliances.

In an interview, he told The Airline Observer the company has assets in the western Pacific and would benefit from more diverse utilisation. It was not disclosed how many airframes could be moved to Japan.

Andrew Nocella, chief commercial officer, said: “We have these 737s and a slot portfolio at Narita, and all the feed from the United States on widebody jets, and it created a unique opportunity."

The company has already made some movements in that direction, scheduling daily flights from Tokyo Narita to Cebu onboard a B737-800, starting on October 27, 2024, the ch-aviation schedules module shows, the first intra-Asia United flight in seven years. "This seemed like something we would like to try, and the advanced bookings indicate that it’s going to be very successful,” said Nocella.

United Airlines declined to comment on the report.

The number of flights and passengers at Guam International continues to plumb pre-pandemic levels, with the airport seeing 368,200 passengers between January and April 2024 versus 636,846 in the same period in 2019 (a 42% decrease). United Airlines is by far the largest operator in this hub, with over 63% of overall capacity and 60% of all frequencies.

Currently, United Airlines flies to Tokyo Haneda from Chicago O’Hare, Guam, Los Angeles International, New York Newark, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles, and it serves Tokyo Narita from Denver International, Guam, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, New York Newark, Saipan, and San Francisco. It codeshares with ANA - All Nippon Airways.