United Airlines will temporarily stop service to New York JFK after failing to get more slots. The current schedule is too small to be competitive.

United Airlines Will Leave JFK After Failing To Secure Additional Slots

According to a memo reviewed by Live and Let's Fly, United blamed its suspension of service to JFK on its uncompetitive schedule and restarts of slots.

Given our current, too-small-to-be-competitive schedule out of JFK – coupled with the start of the Winter season where more airlines will operate their slots as they resume JFK flying – United has made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend service at JFK.

In 2015, United left JFK under the leadership of Jeff Smisek with no plans to come back. United makes it clear that it wants to come back.

Our discussions with the FAA have been constructive. It’s clear they are serious about operational improvements in the N.Y./N.J. region, including JFK and EWR, which is important for all our customers. 

However, it’s also clear that the process to add additional capacity at JFK will take some time.

When it comes back, it will be larger than before.

Importantly, the significance of JFK to our operation hasn’t changed – we think New York customers deserve more choices, and robust United service to JFK is good for our customers, our employees and our airline. As a result, we will continue our pursuit of a bigger and more desirable schedule for our customers and be ready to seize those opportunities if and when they surface.

Our temporary JFK suspension is effective with the last inbound flights Oct. 29, and we’re working with customers who have tickets after that date to make new arrangements.

There are two questions that are not answered. United still has slot pairs at JFK that are leased to Delta. The terms of the lease were never made public, but I think at some point the lease will end and United will be able to take back those slots. Will that happen soon?

Is it possible that United was forced into this move because the FAA slot waiver expired and it simply wasn't profitable at two flights a day to Los Angeles and two to San Francisco? The exact reason for leaving JFK again has not been made public.

There is a chess move at JFK airport.

100 United Employees At JFK Face Uncertainty

The 100 United employees at JFK will face the same uncertainty that they faced in 2015.

We know this news is especially tough for the 100 employees who work at JFK today. We held a series of in-person meetings earlier today to ensure our team knows that no one is losing their job and that we’re going to work hard to make their transition to other nearby stations as smooth as possible.

JFK employees say goodbye to home.


United Airlines will suspend service to JFK again in a different environment under different pressures. I am hopeful that United will return to JFK at one point...hopefully with a vengeance. It can put all of the focus on its fortress hub in Newark.