United Airways returns to JFK because the Covid-19 lull ends its 5-year absence

A United Airlines Boeing 737-800 and a United Airlines A320 Airbus approaching San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco.

Louis Ribbon | Reuters

United Airlines will fly back to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sunday for the first time in more than five years as the airline takes a break in air traffic to secure a seat at the once congested airport.

United’s JFK service begins with a PT flight at 7:30 a.m. from Los Angeles International Airport and a PT flight at 9:30 a.m. from the hub of San Francisco International Airport. Both are operated with a Boeing 767-300. The flight from JFK to San Francisco departs at 5:10 PM and to Los Angeles at 7 PM.

United’s service in the New York area is focused on the Newark Liberty International Airport hub and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Airlines withdrew air traffic to the northeast during the Covid-19 pandemic, with business and international travel still at poor levels, despite domestic leisure demand increasing nationally.

According to Airlines for America, an industry group that represents most of the major US airlines, scheduled airline traffic in New York state fell 56% in April compared to the same month last year, 2019, more than any other state. The national average is 32%. This makes it easier for airlines to add services.

Scott Kirby, United’s CEO, who took over the helm last May, said leaving JFK in October 2015 was a mistake and expressed a desire to return to New York City Airport amid the move of transcontinental flights to Newark it enabled competitor American Airlines to win customers a lucrative company.

CNBC first reported in September that United plans to return to JFK.

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