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.
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.