United Airlines announced on September 6, 2022, that it would stop operating flights at New York City’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport if authorities did not give the airline more takeoff and landing slots.

In a letter to staff members dated September 6, 2022, United stated that the airline had requested an increase in JFK capacity once more and had given the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA ) until the end of October 2022 to meet its demands.

On Tuesday, September 6, 2022, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby wrote an open letter to Billy Nolen, the acting director of the Federal Aviation Administration, conveying the message. According to an email reported by Reuters, Kirby urged that Nolen’s company let United increase the number of departures and arrivals from Kennedy.

“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 Airlines said .

United Airlines Threatens To Stop Services At New York's JFK Airport
United Airlines said it would suspend operations at the end of October without more slots. Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg

To compare traffic at another New York area airport, United pointed out that Newark has three runways versus JFK’s four. Despite one less runway, Newark could handle 79 flights per hour, compared to JFK’s 81, which United said had been constant since 2008 despite infrastructural enhancements.

“A comparison to Newark makes it clear that there is additional capacity at JFK,” the airline said in the email. “United believes it is in the travelling public’s interest for the FAA to quantify and permanently allocate the unused capacity at JFK”.

According to the report, United stated that JFK’s total flight capacity hasn’t increased since 2008, although the airport has widened its runways and installed multi-entrance taxiways.

When Delta moved most of its operations from the airport to its hub in Newark, contributing to the vast majority of air traffic, the airline leased at least 24 permanent flight slots at JFK to Delta in 2015.

United Airlines Returned To JFK In 2021

United made a triumphant comeback to JFK in 2021, with CEO Scott Kirby labelling the company’s 2015 departure as a “mistake.”

United stated in its email that it does not have access to these slots since many of its takeoff and landing rights at JFK are leased to Delta, according to Bloomberg. Neither company responded immediately when Insider contacted Delta and United for comment after business hours.

According to a statement from the FAA to Bloomberg, new flights added at JFK would be dispersed “fairly” among various airlines.

“The agency must consider airspace capacity and runway capacity to assess how changes would affect flights at nearby airports.” the statement read, according to the outlet.

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