On Tuesday, United Airlines threatened to suspend all service to JFK unless federal regulators allowed the airline to increase its number of daily flights, which currently only runs a total of four daily flights to LAX and SFO.
This isn’t the first time the airline has played hardball with JFK. In 2015, United left JFK airport for its hub in Newark, New Jersey in order to consolidate flights. It later returned to JFK in 2021 and since then has run fewer flights as it leased 40 takeoff and landing slots to Delta Air Lines when it left in 2015. Because of the long-term lease with Delta, United has no rights to those slots anytime soon.
In an email sent to United Airlines employees on Tuesday, United CEO Scott Kirby stated, “If we are not able to get additional allocations for multiple seasons, we will need to suspend service at JFK, effective at the end of October.” United also argues that there is plenty of room for expansion at JFK since the FAA and the Port Authority have made significant investments in the airport’s infrastructure since 2008.
In response, the FAA made a statement to Bloomberg that any new flights added at JFK would be “fairly” issued among all airlines. It also added that the agency “must consider airspace capacity and runway capacity to assess how changes would affect flights at nearby airports.”
Being that it’s already September, the FAA doesn’t have much time to meet United’s deadline.