United to reduce hours at Newark by 12% this summer

(CNN) — Citing air traffic congestion, United Airlines said on Thursday it would cut 12% of its daily domestic flights from its busy Newark hub.

The cuts begin in July and amount to approximately 50 daily flights.

Newark is a critical New York-area hub in United’s flight network and has historically been among the US airports with the most delays and cancellations.

Executive Jon Roitman wrote in a message to employees shared with CNN that the schedule changes “should help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time performance — not just for our customers, but for everyone passing through Newark.”

United CEO Scott Kirby recently told CNN’s Richard Quest, “The biggest problem is that there are more flights scheduled at Newark, for example, than there is capacity at the airport. airport, even on a perfect blue sky day and air traffic control is understaffed and because of that, there are just more flights than the airport can handle.”

United is currently in a blame battle with several airlines, including Spirit, over congestion at the airport. United claimed in a May letter to the FAA that other carriers were “creating a crisis at EWR” by scheduling too many peak-hour flights.

Spirit responded by saying United held “virtual monopoly status in Newark”.

The Federal Aviation Administration does not control takeoff and landing slots at Newark as it does at some of the other busiest airports in the country. United said it received a waiver from the FAA “for the remainder of the summer” to protect its future rights at the airport.

United said they have the necessary staff to support their schedule and plan to “return to a full schedule from Newark as soon as possible”.

United is the latest among several US carriers to cut summer schedules. Last month, Delta Air Lines announced it would cut 100 daily flights from its schedule this summer. JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines have also reduced their flights.

Concern over air travel chaos has grown as demand has increased this summer.

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently urged airline executives in a private conversation to review their flight schedules and take other steps to lessen the impact of summer flight cancellations.

Top image: United Airlines planes sit on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, in this Nov. 30, 2021, file photo. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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