In 2015, United sold its 26 New York Kennedy (JFK) slots to Delta. Three years later, it wants them back.
Last year, I wrote about United President Scott Kirby conceding it was a mistake for United to abandon New York. To sum up his thoughts, it was penny-wise, pound-foolish. While United’s transcon flights were losing money, United failed to anticipate the ripple effect it would have across other lucrative routes. Several corporate contracts that used United for international flights from the West Coast were lost as well.
> Read More: United Airlines Regrets Leaving New York JFK
Up until now, Kirby has said it was a mistake but United had no desire to resume flying at JFK. To United’s credit, it still holds a plurality on New York market share (if you count Newark, which I certainly do) and is profitable.
But Kirby told a trade conference this week that United wants back into New York JFK.
And I want to fly the Concorde…
Of course, United cannot undo the deal with Delta and Kirby “doesn’t see a feasible organic solution to getting back in there.”
Feasible is the key word. There is always a way, always a price. But like the hot housing market right now, United is going to have to pay a very high premium…and that is unlikely to be worthwhile at this stage.
In the meantime, United is still placing ads like the one above all over New York City.
Three years later, the loss of JFK remains a divisive point of contention for employees and a huge missed opportunity for United. While United may one day find a way back into JFK, it for now should focus on not making any further strategic slot blunders.
(H/T View from the Wing / image: Anthony Pagaza)
I covered United’s emotional departure from JFK over several installments in 2015 here:
- United Airlines Leaves JFK, Moves p.s. to Newark
- United JFK Employees Say Goodbye to Home, Hello to Uncertainty
- Onboard Video from the Final United p.s. Flight from JFK
- A Review of My First and Last United p.s. Flights from JFK
- Saying Goodbye to United Airlines at JFK
- United Airlines First Class San Francisco to New York JFK
@ Matthew — United will eventually acquire JetBlue, and the problem will be solved.
United was stupid. Alaska was much smarter. It leased LGA slots to Southwest for 10 years, which starts this fall. Alaska probably felt that it could not support LGA-DAL flights very well but, by leasing it for 10 years, may find itself in a better situation in 2028. For example, it may have a mid-continental focus city by then. Or LGA might relax the perimeter rule. If the perimeter rule is relaxed, there’s a clause allowing termination of leases to Southwest.
For now, Alaska has SFO-JFK and LAX-JFK but not United!
United can buy slots slowly. 4 landing slots can take care of LAX and SFO service. 2 of those slots are in low demand times (early morning).
Would they entertain a slot/gate swap EWR for JFK ?
When UA left JFK, I started flying DL more. B6 buyout aside, I wonder where they would go. Their club is now an Alaska Board room.
@Ric, EWR isn’t slot controlled anymore.
United was clearly not thinking long term. Mismanagement, plain and simple.
In contrast, Alaska is not in the position to serve LGA well with LGA-DAL so they leased, not sold, their LGA slots to Southwest for 10 years. The lease can be terminated if the perimeter rule is changed, allowing AS to fly LGA-west coast. In 10 years, Alaska may be ready to have a mid-continental focus city, which could conceivably use LGA slots.
What’s the big deal about going to EWR from
Manhattan vs JFK? It’s seems like it would be a toss up. Especially for the Hollywood types who get met by a limo anyway.