United Airlines could return to New York’s JFK airport in 2021

Sep 29, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

United Airlines may finally be returning to New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, righting what its CEO Scott Kirby has called a strategic mistake by the carrier.

The Chicago-based carrier hopes to return to New York JFK sometime in 2021 — maybe even early in the year — CNBC reported citing officials familiar with the matter on Tuesday. TPG independently confirmed United’s intention to return to JFK next year from sources familiar with the carrier’s plans.

A United spokesperson declined to comment.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

This file photo from Oct. 21, 2013, shows United Airlines' Terminal 7 at New York JFK Airport. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
The United Airlines name on Terminal 7 at JFK airport in 2013. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

 

United ended service to JFK when it suspended nonstop flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) in October 2015. The move amid fierce competition from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways on the high-profile transcontinental routes. While leaving JFK, United consolidated its flights on the routes at its nearby Newark Liberty (EWR) hub and raised the stakes with up to hourly service.

“I wish I could roll back the clock and change the decision,” Kirby said on the departure in 2017. “It was the wrong decision.”

The move lost United the many New Yorkers who prefer flying into and out of JFK rather than cross the Hudson River to Newark. In addition, JFK serves the millions of people who live on Long Island or in Westchester County and for whom the trip to New Jersey is longer and less attractive.

United continues to serve New York LaGuardia (LGA) and Westchester County Airport (HPN) in addition to Newark.

Related: United Airlines adds 17 routes to Florida, bypassing hubs in pandemic route-map shakeup

The decline in air travel because of COVID-19 may create the opening United needs to acquire slots at JFK. While slot usage rules remain temporarily waived, some airlines are expected to give up slots at various airports as they shrink as a result of the crisis.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has waived slot usage rules through Oct. 24 and is considering an extending that to Dec. 31.

United is in favor of extending the slot waivers. The airline’s vice president of international regulatory and policy Steve Morrissey cited a “great need of flexibility” due the uncertainty around the duration of the crisis in a letter to the FAA on July 14. He asked the regulator to extend the waivers beyond December through July 2021.

Related: United Airlines pilots accept cuts to avoid furloughs

The airline remains significantly smaller today than it was in 2019. In October, United plans to fly about 40% of what it flew a year ago with expectations that it could resume up to only about half of its former schedule by year-end.

United anticipates furloughing roughly 12,000 employees, including flight attendants and ground staff, on Thursday (Oct. 1). That is the day after protections under the federal coronavirus aid package, or CARES Act, expire barring an 11th hour extension by Congress.

While House Democrats unveiled a bill that would extend protections for airline employees on Sept. 28, a vote and a comparable Senate bill appear unlikely before Thursday.

Related: American, United say flights to small cities are at risk unless Congress extends payroll program

Featured image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.