Nearly six years ago, United Airlines bid farewell to New York’s JFK airport, giving up its operations at the nation’s sixth-busiest airport — and the biggest in the Northeast — and surrendering the airport to the competition.
After several delays, this Sunday, March 28, United will make its grand return to JFK by resuming flagship flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The airline will operate from JFK’s Terminal 7, The Points Guy reported.
Since leaving JFK in October 2015, the airline consolidated its premium transcontinental and international services at Newark Airport in New Jersey, while offering limited domestic service – mostly to hubs – from New York-Laguardia.
But in 2017, Scott Kirby — who was, at the time, president of the airline, and is now CEO — described the move as a mistake.
The return to JFK was partly an opportunistic move brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall reduced flying meant that the airline could snag the landing slots it needed to stage its comeback.
To attract big corporate accounts and compete with other airlines more firmly entrenched in JFK, United plans to fly its premium “high-J” Boeing 767-300 on the routes.
As travel continues to pick up alongside COVID-19 vaccination rates, United will face fierce competition on the high-demand routes. American Airlines flies its Airbus A321T between New York and the two California cities — featuring both first class and business class cabins — while JetBlue features its lauded Mint business class cabin on JFK-LAX flights. Delta flies 757 and 767s outfitted with Delta One on the transcon routes out of JFK.
At launch, the airline will fly each route five times weekly, before increasing to a twice-daily frequency in May. One lingering question: whether the airline will expand service with more domestic or international routes.
“We are always looking for opportunities to better serve our customers,” a spokesperson told TPG. “At this time our focus is on providing our customers transcontinental service from JFK.”