Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Newark Airport Sets Opening Date for First New Terminal in 34 Years

2 months ago

It’s not often that travelers have something to look forward to at Newark Liberty International Airport. The new $2.7 billion Terminal A will open in December, the latest in a series of major airport projects opening around the U.S. this year.

The first 21 gates of the 33-gate facility will open on December 8, officials said Tuesday. The remaining gates open in 2023. Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines will operate from the terminal initially, and Delta Air Lines will join them next year. The old Terminal A, which opened in 1973, will be demolished.

The last new terminal to open at Newark airport was Terminal C in 1988.

Inside the new Terminal A at Newark airport
The security checkpoint in the new Terminal A at Newark airport. (PANYNJ)

United, which has a large hub at Newark, will use up to 15 gates in the new Terminal A. The airline plans to operate flights to around 23 destinations — including to Atlanta, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, and Seattle-Tacoma — from the facility, Newark Chief Pilot Captain Fabian Garcia said in September.

The new terminal at Newark is the latest in a series of big airport investments around the U.S. this year. New or expanded facilities at Denver, Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, Orlando, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Seattle-Tacoma, and Washington Dulles airports have all opened in recent months.

Construction of Terminal A at Newark began in 2018.

Airlines

Air India Announces Major Fleet Expansion, to Introduce Premium Economy

5 months ago

Air India, the erstwhile Indian state carrier which had been bought by the Tata Group in a $2.4 billion deal earlier this year, announced on Monday that it would look to progressively induct 30 new aircraft from December onwards, over the next 15 months.

With the succesful induction of the 25 narrow-body and five wide-body aircraft, the airline plans to increase its fleet size to 143 by the end of 2023. The airline currently has 70 narrow-body aircraft and 43 wide-bodied planes.

The airline will be leasing 21 Airbus A320neos, four A321neos and five Boeing 777-200LRs, in a bid to expand its fleet and global footprint.

Moving away from its earlier business model, Air India also plans to introduce premium economy seats in the 777-200LRs, similar to its sister airline Vistara, which is a joint venture of Tatas and Singapore Airlines, wherein Tata Sons holds a 51 percent stake.

The Boeing aircraft will join the fleet between December 2022 and March 2023, and would be deployed on routes connecting Indian metropolitan cities to the U.S., the airline said in a press statement.

The airline will be launching a direct flight connecting Mumbai to San Francisco and will also connect Mumbai to JFK and Newark, while Bengluru would receive a three times weekly service to San Francisco. 

The four A321neo aircraft are expected to join the Air India fleet in the first quarter of 2023, while the 21 A320neo planes will be inducted in the second half of 2023.

These new aircraft, together with existing aircraft being returned to service, address an immediate need for more capacity and connectivity, and mark a strong step forward, Campbell Wilson, CEO and managing director of the airline said, adding, “Air India has exciting expansion and renewal plans, of which these new aircraft are just the beginning.”

As part of its plan to expand its fleet, the airline in July announced its decision to allow its pilots fly till the age of 65, while the earlier retirement age for pilots was fixed at 58.

Airlines

Spirit Airlines Wins More Newark Flights After More Than 2 Year Fight

7 months ago

Spirit Airlines’ two-and-a-half year saga to expand at Newark Liberty International Airport has a happy ending. Late on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the discounter 16 peak “runway timings” — in short, rights to takeoff and land at an airport during a given hour — that Spirit sued for in December 2019.

The DOT said the award of the timings, which were only available to budget airlines, would boost “low-cost service options” and improve competition at the New York City-area airport. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways also sought the takeoff and landing rights, according to the regulator.

(Friscocali/Flickr)

Newark is a major hub for United Airlines, which operates more than 70 percent of all flights at the airport. The timings were previously used by Southwest Airlines until the carrier ended flights to Newark in 2019. And Southwest acquired them in 2010 as a condition of United’s merger with Continental Airlines.

The award comes amid a three-way war of words between JetBlue, Spirit, and United over congestion at Newark. JetBlue and Spirit blame United, and the Federal Aviation Administration, for over scheduling the already congested airport, whereas United has repeatedly made the argument that its much smaller competitors were the problem. In June, United cut its schedule at Newark by roughly 50 daily flights from July 1 through the end of the summer to combat delays.

In an interesting twist, the DOT may need to re-award the timings if JetBlue wins its hostile bid for Spirit. The former carrier has pledged to divest all of Spirit’s assets in Boston and New York — including Newark — if shareholders approve its plan over a competing proposal from Frontier Airlines. Spirit shareholders vote on the Frontier proposal Friday.

Airlines

United Airlines Cancels Newark Flights to Reduce Delays

7 months ago

United Airlines is joining the growing ranks of U.S. airlines cutting flights this summer in order to provide travelers with some semblance of a reliable operation.

The Chicago-based carrier is pulling roughly 50 daily flights from its schedule at Newark Liberty International Airport from July 1 through the end of the summer in order to “help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time performance,” United Chief Operations Officer Jon Roitman told staff in a memo Friday viewed by Skift. He emphasized that the cuts are unrelated too staffing, and that United has “the planes, pilots, crews, and staff to support our Newark schedule.” The cuts will only affect domestic flights and no nonstop routes will be suspended.

(Anthony Dolce/Flickr)

Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, and Spirit Airlines have all been forced to cut their schedules this summer due to a myriad of operational issues, ranging from air traffic control delays to staffing and weather. Others, including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, loaded smaller-than-hoped-for schedules with the acknowledgement of operational challenges during the peak summer months.

United’s Newark reductions come after months of back-and-forth with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees flight operations at Newark, and competitors JetBlue and Spirit over delays at the airport. United alleges that delays are due to the two smaller airlines scheduling too many flights at peak times, whereas JetBlue and Spirit point the finger at United that operates roughly 72 percent of all flights at Newark.

The FAA granted United a waiver that will allow it to keep its “runway timings” at Newark despite not operating the roughly 50 flights this summer. The waiver extends through the end of the airline “summer” season, which concludes on October 29.

Airlines

JetBlue Fires Back at United Over Newark Airport

9 months ago

United Airlines should look in the “proverbial mirror” when it comes to its allegations that poor operations at Newark Liberty International Airport are the the fault of smaller competitors, JetBlue Airways said Monday.

“Instead of criticizing low-fare/low-cost carriers, United should look in the proverbial mirror first when seeking a carrier to blame for operational issues and congestion at [Newark]: United, with 72 percent of operations at [Newark], is far and away the leading carrier at [Newark] with the most responsibility for operations at the airport,” JetBlue Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Robert Land said in a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation officials.

The airline’s arguments mirror those made by Spirit Airlines, both of which United has blamed for a recent spike delays and cancellations at Newark. Spirit Vice President of Network Planning John Kirby recently told Airline Weekly that United was taking “liberties” in blaming its competitors when the mainline carrier so clearly dominates Newark.

JetBlue offers several proposals to improve operations at Newark. For one, the airline says officials should wait for the new Terminal A to open later this year, and see if the facility — plus the end of construction — improve operations. If that does not work, the Federal Aviation Administration should “convene a schedule reduction meeting” to ensure that there are no more than the recommended maximum of 79 flights per hour. Other recommendations include the approval of simultaneous dual approaches on Newark’s two main runways to increase throughput.

No matter what comes of the war of words between United, and JetBlue and Spirit one thing is clear: travelers best be prepared for flight delays and cancellations at Newark this summer.

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