United Airlines has begun further reducing its Newark schedule and taking other measures to improve its operational stability at the airport, United’s largest East Coast hub.
“We’ve already started to improve the work experience for our people and the travel experience for our customers,” CEO Scott Kirby said during Thursday’s Q2 earnings call.
Between June 25 and June 30, United canceled more than 3,200 mainline flights, amounting to 19.6% of its mainline schedule. The carrier also delayed 54% of its flights over those six days as it scrambled to overcome a system disruption that was initially caused by heavy thunderstorms in Newark.
Because of pilot and air traffic controller shortages, the FAA in March had asked airlines to reduce their summer schedules at New York-area airports. United responded by reducing its Newark summer schedule from about 430 flights per day to approximately 409.
To prevent future operational collapses, the carrier has further dialed back its Newark schedule, said chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella. In August, United will offer approximately 390 flights per day from Newark.
The reduction will remain in place for future summer seasons until the carrier can find a solution to better manage capacity at the tightly constrained airport, Nocella added.
United is likely to cut domestic flights from Newark. During a call with the media early this week, United’s senior vice president of global network Patrick Quayle said that the carrier is not rethinking its international network from Newark.
On Thursday, United president Brett Hart elaborated on the Newark plan, noting that schedule reductions are being implemented during peak flying hours. The carrier has also stepped up collaboration the with FAA’s Newark air traffic control team, he said.
And, United has shifted its Newark schedule to increase out-and-back flying, which results in fewer downstream schedule disruptions than multi-point flying when weather or other issues impact operations.
Hart also said that United will have six more gates to utilize in Newark as they bring the final gates online at the new Terminal A, which opened late last year.
United’s Q2 profit exceeds $1 billion
For the second quarter, United reported net income of $1.08 billion. The carrier recorded revenue for the quarter of $14.18 billion, up 17.1% year over year, on 17.5% more capacity. The revenue figure topped analyst projects by $250 million, according to the investment website Seeking Alpha.
United reported expenses for the quarter of $12.67 billion, up 12.7%, and an operating pre-tax margin of 9.8%. The margin would have been approximately one percentage point higher if not for the operational failures in June, CFO Gerry Lederman said.
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