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United Airlines Threatens to Pull Service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Unless Granted More Slots

by Aoife O’Riordan

Sep 14, 2022

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Earlier this month, United Airlines announced plans to stop service at John F. Kennedy International Airport by the end of next month unless the airport grants the airline more slots. In February 2021, United Airlines received temporary slots to resume operations from JFK, currently offering two daily roundtrip flights to Los Angeles and another two daily roundtrip flights to San Francisco.

United Airlines sent an official letter to the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Billy Nolen, requesting more space at JFK. For more than a year, United Airlines has pushed for extra slots at the airport in order to compete with other airlines.

“If we are not able to get additional allocations for multiple seasons, we will need to suspend service at J.F.K., effective at the end of October,” United Airlines said in the staff memo. “That would obviously be a tough and frustrating step to take and one that we have worked really hard to prevent.”

The staff memo also noted how JetBlue, one of its competitors, flies to Los Angeles six times more frequently, while American Airlines flies to Los Angeles four times more frequently. The carrier’s regional base of Newark Liberty International Airport features just three runways compared to JFK’s four, and United argues the airport capacity still remains the same: 81 operations per hour at JFK since 2008, compared to Newark’s state limit of 79.

This recent plan to halt service at JFK is a stark contrast to United Airlines’ start at JFK, as one of the first airlines to secure site leases with the Port Authority and the first airline to open a terminal at JFK. The potential end of the airline’s operations at the large airport would see the end of an era.

That said, if the FAA approves United Airlines’ request for more slots across several seasons, the airline aims to expand and provide consumers with a more competitive offering at JFK.

In response to the airline’s announcement, the FAA said, “The agency must consider airspace capacity and runway capacity to assess how changes would affect flights at nearby airports. Any additional slots at JFK would follow the FAA’s well-established process of awarding them fairly and to increase competition.”

United Airlines’ plan to stop service isn’t the first time the carrier implemented a pause of service from JFK. The airline resumed service in early 2021 after a five-year break.

Should United Airlines withdraw from JFK, passengers can still access the airline at LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport.

What are your thoughts on United Airlines’ decision to pull service from JFK should they not receive additional slots? Do you think United Airlines should be given more slots? How might this affect your travels should the airline pull out of JFK? Which airport do you prefer for international connections: New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR)? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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