United Airlines has threatened to pull its service out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as early as October if it is not granted more slots, the carrier on Wednesday confirmed to BTN.
The carrier’s regional base is Newark Liberty International Airport, but in February 2021 it received temporary slots to resume operations from JFK and now offers two daily roundtrip flights to San Francisco and another two to Los Angeles.
The carrier for more than a year has been pursuing additional slots at JFK through the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration “so that we can grow to be more competitive,” according to a United memo sent to staff on Tuesday. Without the permanent slots, “we can’t serve JFK effectively compared to the larger schedules and more attractive flight times flown by our competitors.” The memo noted that JetBlue flies to Los Angeles six times more frequently and American Airlines four times more frequently.
United CEO Scott Kirby last week sent a letter to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration acting administrator Billy Nolen, according to the memo, urging him to increase capacity at JFK, citing the “significant infrastructure investments” since 2008 as well as the airport having more runways than available at Newark, according to the carrier.
“JFK has four runways compared to just three at [Newark], … yet, the airport capacity has remained the same: 81 operations per hour since 2008, just two more movements per hour than [Newark’s] stated limit of 79,” according to United.
Should the FAA approve United’s request for more slots for multiple seasons, the carrier is “prepared to expand and provide consumers a more competitive JFK offering.” If not, “we will need to suspend service at JFK, effective at the end of October,” according to the memo.
The FAA said in a statement that it “continually looks for ways to increase the efficiency of airspace in busy metropolitan areas safely. 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.”