Skift Breaking News Blog

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

Airlines

United Airlines Cancels Newark Flights to Reduce Delays

4 days 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

2 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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