While JFK may be able to handle some additional takeoffs and landings, if more flight volumes were added to the New York area, it would cause additional tie-ups in the region Image Credit: Reuters

New York: United Airlines Holdings threatened to suspend service at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport unless federal regulators review runway use and allow the carrier to increase daily operations.

The airport’s total flight capacity hasn’t changed since 2008, despite a widening of runways and other infrastructure improvements, United told employees in a memo about its plan Tuesday. The airline, which has two daily flights between Los Angeles and JFK, and two shuttling back and forth to San Francisco, said it would suspend operations at the end of October without more slots.

“That would obviously be a tough and frustrating step to take and one that we have worked really hard to prevent,” the carrier said. United resumed service at JFK in 2021 and said it has made repeated requests to the Federal Aviation Administration to expand operations.

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 nearby Newark, New Jersey, hub. The long-term nature of the leases means United has no access to them for the foreseeable future, the carrier said. Delta didn’t immediately comment on the leases after normal business hours.

Any new flights added at JFK would have to be distributed ‘fairly,’ the FAA said in an emailed statement, meaning there would be no guarantee that United would receive additional slots.

“The FAA continually looks for ways to increase the efficiency of airspace in busy metropolitan areas safely,” the FAA said. “The agency must consider airspace capacity and runway capacity to assess how changes would affect flights at nearby airports.”

While JFK may be able to handle some additional takeoffs and landings, if more flight volumes were added to the New York area - already one of the most congested in the US - it would cause additional tie-ups in the region, said a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named discussing the issue.

United cut 50 daily flights from Newark Liberty International Airport earlier this year to ease disruptions caused by a number of factors, including construction, and accused two discount carriers of scheduling too many flights.