A couple of weeks in the past United Airways administration threatened to desert JFK, except the airline was granted everlasting slots on the airport. The airline is following by means of on this menace, and shall be pulling out of JFK within the coming weeks.
United returned to JFK in 2021
Within the spring of 2021, United Airways returned to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), after chopping service again in 2015. United pulled out of JFK on the time in order that it may as an alternative give attention to its hub at Newark Airport (EWR), because the airline believed it may get most passengers to journey out of EWR as an alternative of JFK.
That didn’t work out, with United Airways CEO Scott Kirby indicating that United pulling out of JFK was one of many service’s largest errors. Clearly United simply wasn’t capturing the New York market in the identical manner flying simply out of EWR, and never out of JFK.
As of now, United flies from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), however we haven’t seen any development past that. JFK is likely one of the few slot restricted airports in the USA, which means that airways can’t simply fly there with out being granted slots.
United’s return to JFK was well-timed, as some further short-term slots have been out there on the airport across the begin of the pandemic, given the sharp drop in demand that we noticed. With demand recovering, United was going through a significant challenge…
United Airways threatened to drag out of JFK
In early September, United Airways administration despatched a memo to workers, suggesting that the airline may pull out of JFK as of late October 2022. Right here’s how the letter described the issue:
For greater than a yr, we’ve pursued extra slots by means of the FAA and the business market at JFK (New York-Kennedy) in order that we are able to develop to be extra aggressive.
The reason being easy: with out everlasting slots, we are able to’t serve JFK successfully in comparison with the bigger schedules and extra enticing flight occasions flown by our rivals. For instance, JetBlue at the moment flies to Los Angeles six occasions extra usually from JFK than United does and American flies there greater than 4 occasions as steadily.
When you recall, United had a chance throughout COVID to achieve entry to some short-term slot occasions at JFK held by different airways. Now that buyer demand has surged again, the operators of those slots are resuming their use firstly of the winer season and past.
That’s why ever since we began flying our JFK routes in February 2021, our aim has been development. Throughout that point, we’ve made repeated requests to the FAA for everlasting slots whereas additionally pursuing industrial agreements to amass slots from different airways — all in an effort to be extra aggressive at JFK.
Sadly, we now have not been profitable in gaining extra everlasting slots.
United Airways urged the FAA to extend capability at JFK, arguing that JFK hasn’t elevated hourly slots since 2008, although airport infrastructure has improved considerably. The memo argued that it’s in the perfect curiosity of the general public for the FAA to completely enhance slots at JFK, and award a few of these to United.
The memo completed with the next, explaining that United would depart JFK if extra slots weren’t granted to the airline:
If our newest request is accepted and the FAA can supply United an interim multi-season allocation, we’re ready to develop and supply shoppers a extra aggressive JFK providing.
But when we aren’t capable of get extra allocations for a number of seasons, we might want to droop service at JFK, efficient on the finish of October. That may clearly be a troublesome and irritating step to take and one which we now have labored actually exhausting to forestall.
United Airways ending JFK flights in October
It’s official — United Airways shall be ending JFK flights as of the top of the summer time schedule, which is in late October 2022. The airline shall be discontinuing its flights to each LAX and SFO, and shall be consolidating operations at EWR. Right here’s how the airline described this determination in an up to date memo:
“Given our present, too-small-to-be-competitive schedule out of JFK — coupled with the beginning of the winter season the place extra airways will function their slots as they resume JFK flying — United has made the tough determination to quickly droop service at JFK.”
That is in fact being marketed as a short lived suspension. I’m certain United needs to return to JFK with a a lot greater presence, although it’s anybody’s guess if/when that shall be potential. In spite of everything, the airline might want to choose up fairly a couple of slots for this service to make sense.
My tackle United’s JFK issues
Is competitors good for shoppers? Completely. Generally I’m all for permitting new entrants into markets, in order that the prevailing gamers should work a bit more durable.
Nevertheless, United’s argument in favor of being given extra service at JFK was self-serving and even a bit ironic:
- United Airways voluntarily left JFK in 2015 (and this concerned a slot swap with Delta, so United benefited from this), then regretted the state of affairs, after which a couple of weeks in the past performed the sufferer card; why ought to United be granted everlasting slots at JFK, moderately than an airline that by no means had the chance to fly there?
- JFK is at the moment present process a significant redevelopment undertaking, so this may not be the time to develop capability on the airport, even when the runways are capable of deal with it
- When United returned to JFK, the airline knew it was solely getting short-term slots, so it appears unrealistic that the airline thought it will simply be capable to purchase everlasting slots
- United took an all-or-nothing strategy right here, and wished a multi-season slot allocation, or else the airline would depart the airport (which is what United is doing now)
- United’s argument in favor of increasing JFK slots is precisely the alternative of the argument it makes about not increasing EWR slots; extremely low price carriers have requested extra slots at EWR, and United has repeatedly argued that the airport is already too congested, and allocating extra slots to extremely low price carriers could be unhealthy for shoppers
United Airways will pull out of JFK as of late October 2022, because the airline hasn’t been granted everlasting slots on the airport. United simply returned to JFK in 2021, after leaving the airport in 2015.
Whereas I believe United returning to JFK was in the end good for competitors, I additionally assume United was unrealistic right here. The airline traded its slots on the airport, after which quickly received some slots when demand was manner down. With demand recovering, it’s no shock that these slots received’t be made everlasting.
What do you make of United pulling out of JFK?