Airline reports that it was unable to compete with rivals for a permanent presence at JFK and couldn't operate at the New York Airport. Let's have a closer look at the situation together.
Why did the major US carrier make such a decision?
Source – Shutterstock. Aerial view of airplanes on the tarmac and at the gate at the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
After attempting to establish a presence at John F. Kennedy International Airport during the Covid-19 outbreak, United Airlines Holdings Inc. announced that it left the airport.
In order to compete with rivals who have a bigger presence at the airport, United has claimed that it's unable to expand at New York's JFK because it cannot get enough slots, takeoff, and landing rights managed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Here's what they wrote in a memo distributed to staff members on Friday:
"Based on our current, too-small-to-be-competitive plan out of JFK – coupled with the beginning of the Winter season where more airline companies will operate their slots as they restart JFK flying – United has made the challenging decision to temporarily block service at JFK."
United also said it's working with customers who have reservations after that date to make other arrangements as its final inbound flights are scheduled for October 29th.
The pandemic provided United with the opportunity to return to JFK after a five-year absence when other carriers weren't using all of their capacity. In an effort to draw in business travelers who don't want to make the trip to United's hub in Newark, N.J., it started twice-daily flights from the airport to San Francisco and Los Angeles last year.
Source – Shutterstock. United Airlines logo on airplane tail wing at EWR Airport in New Jersey
However, the travel demand has increased again, and airlines that hadn't been using their JFK slots are returning. United stated earlier this month that it would quit JFK if it couldn't acquire more permanent space and claimed that it had failed in attempts to obtain permanent slots from the FAA or to negotiate deals with other airlines for more. The Chicago-based carrier reported that it had urged FAA Administrator Bill Nolen to expand JFK's capacity, stating that recent infrastructure upgrades allowed JFK to handle more traffic.
The FAA stated:
"We will award future slots using our fair and well-established method to encourage airline competition so passengers have more choices. We're glad United will keep its JFK employees and transfer them to its other New York City airports."
The FAA and United have had positive discussions, according to a statement released by United on Friday. If other chances arise, United will continue to pursue a "larger and more appealing schedule" at JFK. None of the airline's 100 JFK employees would lose their jobs, according to the company.
In 2015, United announced its initial departure from JFK, claiming that the airline was losing money there because of fierce competition on upscale transcontinental routes. At the time, Delta Air Lines Inc. took over United's JFK slots as part of a long-term lease agreement, therefore United switched to Newark. Although there are limitations on how far an airline can fly nonstop from LaGuardia Airport, United also flies there.
United's CEO, Scott Kirby, joined the company after it departed JFK and has stated that this was a mistake. According to him, some of United's major corporate clients refused to move to Newark, costing United customers.
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Source – Shutterstock. Masked businessman waiting to board a flight while standing in the departure terminal at the airport
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Source – Shutterstock. Airline plane flying above the clouds in the blue sky
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