Chicago, IL –

United is cutting departure capacity at Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, averaging 5%, but as high as 17% at its Denver hub.

However, that can be a bit misleading for Denver; some of the cuts are because the carrier is shifting capacity to the Continental side, and some due to seasonal cutbacks that usually happen in September. But accounting for those, capacity is still being cut at least 5% above the same time last year.

The airline cites high fuel prices and a sluggish economy as factors. International flights, however, will not receive the same system-wide cuts as its domestic capacity. International routes are highly profitable, in part due to higher ticket prices and the lucrative cargo it carries.

Overall, the airline expects by spring to increase flight capacity above last year’s numbers as fuel prices are expected to come down and the economy slowly recovers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says nearly 55% of businesses plan to expand their marketing and travel plans by spring 2012.

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