LONDON – US carrier United Airlines has confirmed its decision to suspend operations from New York JFK Airport as of late October.
The confirmation follows on from the airlines earlier disclosure that it was considering pulling out from JFK due to the allocation of slots to other rival carriers.
“Given our current, too-small-to-be-competitive schedule out of JFK, coupled with the start of the winter season where more airlines will operate their slots as they resume JFK flying — United has made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend service at JFK,” the airline stated in a memorandum dated 30 September.
The United statement went on to refer to their recent communications with the FAA, saying: “Earlier this month, we shared an update about our efforts to advocate for additional slots that would allow us to grow the station, as well as our ask of the FAA to update its assessment of JFK’s overall capacity…”
“Our discussions with FAA have been constructive. It’s clear they are serious about operational improvements in the NY/NJ region, including JFK and EWR, which is important for all our customers.”
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby had recently sent a letter to FAA administrator Billy Nolen, urging him to increase capacity at JFK. Kirby pointed to the fact that several major infrastructure upgrades had taken place over the last 14 years; warranting the consideration of increased slot capacity.
Improvements such as runway widening, multi-entry taxiways and high-speed runway turnoffs were cited to make United’s case for the FAA consideration of a capacity increase.
The decision to withdraw services in late October will impact airline staff based at JFK airport. United’s statement goes on to say: “We know this news is especially tough for the 100 employees who work at JFK today.”
“We held a series of in-person meetings earlier today to ensure our team knows that no-one is losing their job, and that we’re going to work hard to make their transition to other nearby stations as smooth as possible.”
An on-again off-again relationship
United Airlines boasts something of a chequered past with respect to its relationship with New York JFK airport. The carrier broke away from the airport in 2015, only to re-establish itself there during the pandemic period in early 2021.
At that time, it picked up slots relinquished by other airlines during the global pandemic. As those slots were subsequently reacquired by competitors, United signalled its intentions to again suspend operations earlier this month.
The airline currently operates 4 daily services from JFK – two to Los Angeles and two to San Francisco. Flights will still continue from United’s hub at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
Despite this, the airline seems to signal its interest in a possible future relationship with JFK, saying: “Our JFK team deserves thanks for taking care of our customers and building a United operation there. We’re all eager to see them return to JFK as soon as possible.”