New York’s Largest Airlines

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Aside from London, New York City is the world’s largest airline market. In the 12 months through August, the three major airports serving the city (JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia) offered passengers a choice of more than 600,000 departing flights, according to Cirium Diio, our industry-leading airline analytics system. Those flights featured nearly 87m seats and more than 163b available seat miles.

Looking at the upcoming fourth quarter of 2023, which starts in October, all three of New York’s main airports are up in seat capacity versus the same quarter last year (about 6% collectively). They’ll be up a similar percentage versus the same quarter of 2019 as well. Taking a longer ten-year view, Newark has led the area in growth, with seat capacity up about 40%. Growth rates for JFK and LaGuardia are 24% and 14%, respectively. These are all capacity-constrained airports, meaning much of their expanded capacity has come from airlines operating larger planes. In fact, Newark’s flight departures are up only 6% in the past ten years. To repeat, that’s 6% more flights but 40% more seats.

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To illustrate this upgauging trend, consider United’s San Francisco route, its busiest from Newark in terms of total seats. Diio shows that in 2013, United flew mostly narrowbody B737s on this route. In Q4 of this year, it plans to fly the route with a mix of B777s, B787s, (both widebodies) and B757s. In total, it will offer 30% fewer flight frequencies yet 1% more seat capacity.

Thanks to its Newark hub, United is the New York area’s largest carrier by seats, though just barely ahead of Delta, which is large at JFK and LaGuardia.