Its worth pointing out the headline for the article is actually quite misleading. When you read into the article, there wasn’t actually any suggestion that the Liverpool route was imminent in any shape or form.
What the VP of United actually said was that, with the right aircraft, and the right economics, routes to smaller cities could be possible, which is a roundabout way of saying we have no plans at the moment because it simply wouldn’t be viable, the airline World way of saying ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, if you will. He never actually mentioned Liverpool.
What the VP did go on to say was, that with mature growth he next logical step was to link Manchester with another city. And in that case, the 2 big obvious choices would be to either re-instate IAD if it has to be a B757 route, or, my bets would be on adding ORD, possibly with a B767-300 operating both EWR and ORD routes from MAN.
The reporter for this article therefore seems to have jumped to conclusions or got their wires crossed. The line of ‘add a second city’ didnt refer to adding a second city in the North West, when you read the line properly, in its context, said add a second city from Manchester. The fact that UA said new routes are always under evaluation, the reporter has, from their Liverpool perspective, insinuated Liverpool is possibles, without the VP actually saying as much.
Also, when larger cities are unserved, like Birmingham, Hamburg, Seville, Lyon, Oslo etc, to think UA would suddenly jump on n a new airport a mere 37 miles from a current, growing outstation before adding those larger points is rather absurd. This would dilute the original station and make potentially both routes unprofitable. I’m not aware of many UA long haul routes that serve stations less than 50 miles from each other, for example they don’t even serve both main London or Paris airports side by side. To suggest the North West would suddenly become a special case in that is rather odd. Even if there was a cruise contract, I’m pretty sure most operators would be fine with the current arrangement.
So in summary, I don’t see EWR-LPL on UA happening in 5, hell, even 10 years or more to be honest.