United to Pull Out of JFK in October

Backing up its threat issued in early September, United Airlines on Oct. 29 will “temporarily suspend” its service at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the carrier confirmed to BTN. United had warned of its departure if it wasn’t allotted more slots by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. 

The carrier’s New York area hub is at Newark Liberty International Airport, however United in February 2021 received temporary slots and resumed some service at JFK, with two daily roundtrip flights each to San Francisco and to Los Angeles. 

The decision to leave JFK will affect about 100 employees, but “no one is losing their job,” and the carrier will work to transition those employees to nearby stations, according to a memo posted Friday on United’s intranet and shared with BTN. It also is working with ticketholders for flights after Oct. 29 “to make new arrangements.”

The carrier’s discussions with the FAA “have been constructive,” according to the memo, but it’s “clear that [the] process to add additional capacity at JFK will take some time,” and given its current “too-small-to-be-competitive” schedule, United came to the decision to pull out for the time being.

United CEO Scott Kirby has argued that capacity at JFK can be increased, citing “significant infrastructure investments” and having more runways available than at Newark. JFK’s capacity has remained the same since 2008, with 81 operations per hour, according to United. 

“The FAA is dedicated to doing its part to safely expand New York City airports and airspace capacity,” the agency said in a statement. “We will follow our fair and well-established process to award future slots to increase competition between airlines so passengers have more options. We are encouraged United will retain and relocate its JFK staff to its other New York City airports.”

RELATED: United Threatens to Depart JFK If Not Allotted More Slots