United Airlines says it will cease flights to and from JFK next month if the federal government doesn’t permit the carrier to raise its operations at New York’s busiest airport, it has been informed.
Federal Aviation Administration
The company delivered the message in a letter from United CEO Scott Kirby to acting Federal Aviation Administration chief Billy Nolen last week. Kirby demanded that Nolen’s agency permit United to increase the number of departures and comings from Kennedy, according to an email cited by Reuters.
“If we are not able to get additional allocations for multiple seasons, we will need to suspend service at John F. Kennedy International Airport, effective at the end of October,” Kirby wrote. The Federal Aviation Administration told on Tuesday that it “must consider airspace capacity and runway capacity to assess how changes would affect flights at nearby airports.”
The agency said that “any additional slots at JFK would follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s well-established process of awarding them fairly and to raise competition.”
American and Delta
The Chicago-based carrier, which is the third-largest domestic airline behind American and Delta, told that without more permanent slots, it cannot operate out of JFK “effectively compared to the larger schedules and more attractive flight times flown by our competitors,” including JetBlue and American.
United currently operates just 2 daily flights from JFK to both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Airline expert Robert Mann told the operation is too small for the carrier’s threat to pull out to be “meaningful.”
“This is the same airline that complained bitterly a couple of weeks ago about a few airline flights out of Newark destroying their whole operation, so it’s a little bit ironic… to arrive out and tell we want slots that don’t exist at Kennedy so we can congest that operation and… [create] more delays,” Mann told The Post.
“It’s a slot control at the airport, so they’d either be taking slots away from someone towards United or it would mean granting new slots, which…can be available to anyone not just United Airlines.” In 2015, United pulled out of JFK and instead decided to concentrate on its local hub in Newark. When it left, it leased its 24 year-round slots to rival Delta.
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Kirby, who became the airline’s top executive in 2017, has been quoted as saying the move was a mistake. Since joining the company from rival American, Kirby has been keen on re-establishing and expanding United’s footprint in southeastern Queens.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Last year, United returned to JFK —citing demand from West Coast customers who insisted on flying directly into New York City rather than New Jersey. JFK is the 13th-busiest airport in the country. It is also the biggest terminus for international flights into and out of North America.
United sees room to grow at JFK, citing large-scale infrastructure projects including “the widening of runways, construction of multi-entrance taxiways, and the creation of aligned high-speed turnoffs.”
Newark is one of United’s biggest hubs. The company operates 69% of its flights there, which translates into 425 flights per day. In June, United cut the number of its daily departures by around 50 to mitigate congestion at Newark.
Sarah Bradley, 50, of Greenwich, CT, was at JFK on Wednesday to fly to Sydney via San Francisco. She stated United abandoning the Queens hub would be “a real pain.”
“It’s much quicker for me to get back home from her,” Bradley told. “I already have flights booked from here for next month. On a personal note, it would be inconvenient.” “I would probably fly from a different airline from JFK in the future.”
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