United Airlines considers JFK withdrawal if more flights are not approved

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United Airlines said it would suspend flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), in New York if the US authorities do not grant the major air carrier more slots to take-off and land.  

In an internal memo to employees, seen by Reuters on September 7, 2022, United Airlines explained that while it currently operates four daily flights involving JFK airport, it “will need to suspend service at JFK, effective at the end of October”.  

The airline said that it was unable to increase runway slots despite submitting multiple requests to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Without the additional slots, United Airlines said it would not be able to increase its competitiveness in the US market and could not serve JFK “effectively compared to the larger schedules and more attractive flight times flown by our competitors”.  

United also noted that JFK’s total flight capacity hasn’t changed since 2008, even though the airport has since completed a $376 million project to repave and widen its runways as well as other construction works. There is capacity to serve some additional flights, the airline argued. 

United Airlines used to fly to and from JFK until October 2015, when the airline decided to suspend flights from the airport and focus on Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey. At the time, United temporarily leased some of the slots under a long-term agreement to its competitor Delta Air Lines. United later decided to return to JFK in March 2021 after other carriers dropped slots due to the global pandemic.  


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