New York: United Airlines Holdings plans to suspend service at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, following through on a threat earlier this month to halt flights if regulators don’t allow the carrier to expand there.
The decision, effective October 29, will only affect four daily flights. The carrier’s New York-area presence is largely concentrated at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, as well as New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The 100 United employees based at JFK will be transferred to nearby stations and there will be no job losses, according to an internal message Friday seen by Bloomberg.
United said its current JFK schedule was too small for the carrier to be competitive, though it continues to see the international travel hub as a key part of its network. The company said the JFK move would be temporary, though it didn’t specify how long the halt would be in effect.
“We will continue our pursuit of a bigger and more desirable schedule for our customers and be ready to seize those opportunities if and when they surface,” United said in the memo. But it’s “clear that process to add additional capacity at JFK will take some time.”
United had sought to expand its operations by gaining additional slots at JFK, which hasn’t increased total flight capacity since 2008, despite a widening of runways and other infrastructure improvements, according to an employee memo United sent earlier this month. The carrier said at the time that it would end operations there if the US Federal Aviation Administration didn’t review runway use and allow it to increase flights.
In the latest memo, United said its discussions with the FAA have been constructive.
The FAA said in a statement Friday that it would continue “doing its part” to expand airport and airspace capacity around New York City, and that it was encouraged United would retain its JFK-based personnel.
“We will follow our fair and well-established process to award future slots to increase competition between airlines so passengers have more options,” the agency said.
United leased the rights to 40 daily takeoffs and landings at JFK to Delta Air Lines in two transactions in 2014 and 2015, when it left the airport to consolidate transcontinental flying at its Newark hub. The long-term nature of the leases means United has no access to them for the foreseeable future, the carrier has said.
United has two daily flights between Los Angeles and JFK, and two shuttling back and forth to San Francisco.