United threatens to end service at JFK

Source: Hot Air

Those of you who are forced to regularly travel by air have no doubt gotten used to a number of disruptions and complications when you visit your usual airport. Flight cancellations and delays (often with no option for a refund) have become commonplace. And long lines at the TSA check-in stations are routine. But if you typically fly out of JFK International Airport in New York City, you may be facing an even larger challenge next month. One entire airline is threatening to disappear and no longer provide service at one of the largest airports in the country. United Airlines has asked the FAA to assign them additional flight slots and if they don’t get them, they will take their operation elsewhere in October. (Fox Business)

United Airlines has drawn a line in the sand with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concerning its flights at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK).

United says if the FAA doesn’t grant the airline additional flights, it will end service at the busiest New York-area airport in October.

United Chief Executive Scott Kirby made the request to the FAA last week, urging an increase in capacity, according to an email to employees seen by Reuters.

Back in 2015, United pulled out of JFK, leasing their flight slots to Delta as they centralized their operations at the hub in Newark. But when that deal expired, they resumed operations, even touting their discount fairs to the west coast. Now they’re threatening to pull out of JFK entirely. That may be a problem for certain travelers because United handles most of the flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco from JFK. They also provide international flights from there to destinations including Tokyo and London. Unless one of the other airlines picks up those routes, travelers in New York will be forced to go to LaGuardia or across the river to Newark.

I’m still unclear about the mechanics of how this decision is being made. United is saying that they need the extra flights to be able to compete with JetBlue and American. But there isn’t all that much crossover in terms of destinations between the airlines. Wouldn’t they wind up with the same amount of business either way?

The other possibility is that United just wants to increase its overall share of flights heading to all destinations. They do seem to have a bit less than JetBlue and American at JFK, so that could be part of it. But United controls 69% of the flights out of Newark and you don’t hear them complaining about that.

This just seems like an inopportune time to be making these sorts of threats leading to even more disruptions in air travel. The reputations of the major airlines are pretty much at rock bottom at the moment. And with the price of jet fuel soaring during this energy crisis, everyone is now shelling out even more money for the privilege of being jammed uncomfortably into a ludicrously tiny seat next to a couple of strangers who may or may not turn out to be unhinged lunatics.

Of course, the few remaining major airlines may no longer care all that much about their reputations or the happiness levels of their customers. People who need to travel long distances will still almost always be forced to fly and they have divided up the market into a nice set of monopolies. They can behave as poorly as they like and deliver terrible customer service and people will still keep paying through the nose for their services. It’s a pity we can’t find a way to make this industry more competitive again.