Breaking: United suspends nearly all operations from the New York area

Apr 5, 2020

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Well, United is now the second major U.S. airline to significantly pare down its operations in the New York City area following the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in the region.

Starting April 5, UA will operate only 17 daily flights from the NYC region. The airline already made significant reductions to its Newark and LaGuardia flights, but these cuts are much more drastic. (Note that United doesn’t operate any flights from New York’s largest airport, JFK).

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Specifically, UA is going from 139 daily flights serving 62 destinations from its mega-hub in Newark to just 15 daily flights serving nine destinations. At LaGuardia, it’s going from 18 daily flights to four destinations to two daily flights serving just one destination.

In a memo to employees, United COO Greg Hart states that the carrier is taking a “major step” to keep employees in the region safe, as well as do its part in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The memo states that these changes are going into effect for at least the next three weeks. UA will continue flying its three long-haul routes from Newark — to Frankfurt (FRA), London Heathrow (LHR) and Tel Aviv (TLV) — though it wasn’t immediately clear which domestic flights would still be operated.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, United operated 404 daily flights on average out of Newark, its largest hub on the East Coast. In this latest schedule update, it’s removing over 95% of this flying, a sign that the worsening outbreak is causing demand to come to a grinding halt.

Related: United Airlines says revenue is down by $100M a day because of coronavirus

United joins Spirit Airlines in (mostly) suspending service to the New York area. Spirit’s cuts are a bit more drastic since it completely stopped serving five airports in the Tri-State area: Hartford (BDL) in Connecticut; Newark Liberty (EWR) in New Jersey; and New York LaGuardia (LGA), Niagara Falls (IAG) and Plattsburgh (PBG) in New York.

Though this reduction in flying will require many fewer ground employees, United is committed to maintaining pay and benefits for all its local employees in Newark and LaGuardia during this time.

We’re living in unprecedented times. United’s latest schedule reduction eliminates over 95% of its NYC-area flying. Only time will tell if this temporarily reduced schedule will stick past the three-week mark.

All photos by the author.

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