By Gregory Wallace, CNN
Citing air traffic congestion, United Airlines said Thursday it would cut 12% of its daily domestic flights from its busy Newark hub.
The cuts begin in July and amount to about 50 daily flights.
Newark is a critical New York-area hub in United’s flight network and has historically been one of the busiest US airports for delays and cancellations.
Executive Jon Roitman wrote in a message to employees shared with CNN that the schedule changes “should help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time performance — not just for our customers, but for everyone flying through Newark.”
United CEO Scott Kirby recently told CNN’s Richard Quest: “The biggest problem is that Newark, for example, has more flights scheduled than there is capacity at the airport, even on a perfect blue sky day, and air traffic control is up understaffed and overcrowded. That means there are simply more flights than the airport can handle.”
United is currently in a debt battle with several airlines, including Spirit, over airport congestion. United claimed in a May letter to the FAA that the other airlines are “creating a crisis in EEA” by scheduling too many peak-time flights.
Spirit responded by claiming that United held “virtual monopoly status in Newark.”
The Federal Aviation Administration does not control Newark’s take-off and landing slots to the same extent as it does at some of the country’s other most congested airports. United said it received a waiver from the FAA “for the rest of the summer” to protect its future rights at the airport.
In a statement, the agency said, “The FAA has permitted United Airlines to not use some of its slots at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) due to construction at multiple gates and runway construction.”
United said it has the staffing to support its schedule and plans to “return to a full Newark schedule as soon as possible.”
United is the latest among several US airlines to cut their summer schedules. Last month, Delta Air Lines announced it would be removing 100 daily flights from its schedule this summer. JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines have also reduced flights.
Concerns about flight travel chaos have increased as demand has increased this summer.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a recent private conversation, urged airline executives to review their flight schedules and take other steps to mitigate the impact of summer flight cancellations.
The CNN Wire
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CNN’s Pete Muntean contributed to this report. Top Photo: United Airlines planes stand on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey in this file photo dated November 30, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)