At this point no airline capacity cuts really come as a surprise, though United’s new flight reductions in the New York City area really put into perspective how far things have come.
United massively reduces Newark & LaGuardia flying
As of today (Sunday, April 5, 2020), United Airlines is temporarily reducing flying schedules to and from Newark and LaGuardia. They say that these changes will stick for a period of at least three weeks. Just how big are the reductions?
- Newark will go from 139 daily flights to 62 destinations, to 15 daily flights to nine destinations
- LaGuardia will go from 18 daily flights to four destinations, to two daily flights to one destination
Note the “original” numbers shown above already represent the reduced schedule that happened after COVID-19.
To think that at this point United flies just 17 daily flights to a total of nine destinations out of the NYC area is… wow.
Here’s how United Airlines describes these reductions in a note to employees:
“For weeks now, our country – and the New York/New Jersey region, in particular – has been dealing with an abrupt increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. You are on the front lines of this crisis at our airports and onboard our aircraft, providing an essential service to these communities and our customers. Through it all, we have taken aggressive steps to protect your safety including diligently implementing social distancing measures, enhancing cleaning protocols and adding core4 days to limit the exposure of our employees.
As the situation in New York and New Jersey worsens, we are taking another major step at Newark and LaGuardia to help keep our employees safe and play our part in helping to mitigate the spread of the outbreak in the Tri-State area.”
United will still pay all employees
In a note to employees, the airline notes that these reductions will result in substantially fewer employees needed. However, United Airlines will maintain pay and benefits for all local employees schedules to work in those locations during temporary reductions.
After all, one of the conditions of United Airlines receiving government aid is that the airline can’t involuntarily furlough any employees. While existing employees will mostly be paid for minimum hours, they’re all still getting a pay check.
United maintaining service to all destinations
As you can see, United Airlines isn’t just reducing frequencies out of the New York City area, but they’re also reducing destinations from the airport significantly. One of the conditions of government aid was that airlines wouldn’t cut service to any destinations through at least September 30, 2020.
Presumably this means that all the destinations they cut service to out of Newark and LaGuardia are otherwise served by United from other airports.
There has been talk of US airlines possibly consolidating flights given lack of demand, but nothing has come of that yet.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, ultimately, but still…
Between Newark and LaGuardia, United Airlines will go from operating 157 daily flights to just 17 daily flights. That’s significant.
To me these reductions make perfect sense. Flights within the US have largely been operating with just a few passengers, which seems financially irresponsible, and also bad for the environment. I’m all for US airlines greatly cutting service, while focusing primarily on cargo and those essential people who still need to travel.