United Airlines announced Thursday that it was removing 50
daily domestic departures from its schedule at Newark Liberty International
Airport effective July 1, the carrier confirmed. The departures represent about
12 percent of the airline’s Newark schedule. 

The carrier requested a waiver from the U.S. Federal
Aviation Administration to temporarily adjust its schedule for the remainder of
summer to “help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time
performance,” and to help “mitigate Newark congestion,” wrote
United’s EVP and COO Jon Roitman in a memo to staff.

The cuts will not result in any market exits, just frequency
reductions, and are the result of “irregular operations in Newark, caused
by many factors, including airport construction,” wrote Roitman, adding
that the airline has the “planes, pilots, crews and staff to support our
Newark schedule.”

United CEO Scott Kirby has been vocal about the challenges
at Newark, noting during the company’s first-quarter earnings call. He said
that in theory, Newark has the capacity to fly 79 operations per hour, in
“perfect conditions, which are rare,” but that the FAA has let
airlines violate those rules, according to Kirby. 

“Unfortunately, our employees and our customers are
collateral damage to that,” Kirby said. “It is time for the FAA to
enforce their own rules.”

Another issue Kirby noted during a CNN
interview was air traffic control being understaffed, leading to “more
flights than the airport can handle.”

Still, Roitman in his memo thanked “the professionals
in Newark’s FAA air traffic control tower and the NY TRACON, whose expertise
has been exemplary during this challenging time.” Further, the memo noted
that United did not anticipate any schedule changes to its other six domestic
hubs this summer.

Other Carrier Cuts

United is not alone is adjusting its schedule. Delta Air
Lines confirmed it is ending nonstop flights between Atlanta and each Colorado
Springs and Oakland, and between Detroit and Sacramento as of Sept. 6. It also
has cut announced service before it even began between Boston and Memphis. 

The service reductions come nearly a month after Delta
announced it was cutting
approximately 100 daily departures between July 1 and Aug. 7 in the United
States and Latin America to improve its operational reliability.

American Airlines also confirmed it was eliminating service
to four regional cities and cutting three routes. The destinations losing
service are due to the regional pilot shortage, according to American, and include
Islip and Ithaca in New York; Toledo, Ohio; and Dubuque, Iowa, all as of Sept.
7. 

“We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to
travel after this date to offer alternative arrangements,” American wrote
in a statement.

The other route cuts are scheduled to take place between
Charlotte and Alexandria, La., in October, and between Chicago and each
Ontario, Calif., and Saint Lucia in November. 

JetBlue in April announced it would cut about 10 percent of
its summer schedule compared to its original plan in order to increase
reliability, according to a company statement. On its second-quarter earnings
call that same day, the company reduced its planned capacity growth to zero to
5 percent in 2022 from plans for 11 to 15 percent. 

U.S. carriers have had a tough start to the busy summer
season, with nearly
3,000 fights canceled Memorial Day Weekend and nearly 3,400 canceled this
past Juneteenth weekend, June 17-20, according to data from FlightAware. Pent-up
travel demand coupled with staffing shortages and inclement weather are contributing
to the disruptions.

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