United Airlines just announced that it plans to cut 50 of its daily flights from Newark, New Jersey, this summer, starting July 1. According to USA Today, that number represents 12 percent of its overall schedule at that particular airport.
Jon Roitman, Executive Vice President of Operations for United, said in a statement that the carrier is taking this action in an effort to keep operations running smoother than they have been so far this summer, as the season has started off with a series of chaotic days filled with flight disruptions and exasperated customers.
United said that all of the flights being pruned from its Newark schedule are domestic and affirmed that all the markets that it serves from Newark Liberty International Airport remain connected via other departures, albeit with lesser frequency.
“After the last few weeks of irregular operations in Newark, caused by many factors, including airport construction, we reached out to the FAA and received a waiver allowing us to temporarily adjust our schedule there for the remainder of the summer,” Roitman said. “We do not anticipate any schedule changes at our other six domestic hubs this summer.”
United also mentioned that the schedule reductions have nothing to do with its own staffing levels, though inadequate staffing has been largely blamed for the spate of flight delays, cancellations and other interruptions and inefficiencies affecting the entire air travel sector of late.
In fact, the issue has become serious enough that Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last week that the U.S. federal government may have to step in to compel U.S. airlines to hire more workers.
“Even though we have the planes, pilots, crews, and staff to support our Newark schedule, this (FAA) waiver will allow us to remove about 50 daily departures which should help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time performance – not only for our customers, but for everyone flying through Newark,” Roitman said. “Our (COVID) recovery plan has been to only sell a schedule we could fly and put customers first, even if that meant sacrificing some short-term revenue.”
United isn’t the only airline strategically trimming its summer schedule in hopes of avoiding further air travel chaos around the country. Earlier this week, American Airlines announced that it would stop service to four small cities from September, due to the ongoing pilot shortage—Toledo, Ohio; Dubuque, Iowa; Ithaca, New York; and Islip, New York. And, JetBlue had already announced that it would be reducing flights by 10 percent this summer, as surging travel demand continues to outstrip carriers’ capacity.
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Source: Travel Plus