If you’re an avgeek or just someone who enjoys following news from the airline industry, you might be surprised by the news that United Airlines has announced its “return” to serving John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. And you’d be even more surprised to learn that United hasn’t flown from JFK for five years.
Excuse me? What do you mean United doesn’t operate at JFK? That can’t be possible. Are you telling me that one of the world’s largest airlines doesn’t fly from the largest international airport in the most populous city in the U.S.? That can’t be true.
Putting things into context, United definitely does offer extensive service to New York City, operating a major domestic and international hub just across the Hudson at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). United’s merger with Continental Airlines gave them the power position at Newark/New York, as the airport is often referred as, and United does offer service from LaGuardia Airport in Queens to its hub cities of Chicago, Washington D.C.. Houston, Denver and beyond. But its absence at JFK has been one of those route structure mysteries for the last five years.
United’s announcement this past week says that its initial service will consist of two daily nonstops in each direction between JFK and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The Boeing 767-300ER (extended range) flights will utilize Terminal 7 at JFK, which is also located in the New York City borough of Queens, on Jamaica Bay and adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. The choice of aircraft is clearly an attempt by United to attract long-haul business travelers with a configuration of 46 Business Class flat-bed seats, 22 United Premium Plus seats, 47 in Economy Plus and 52 in straight Economy class.
Competition on both California routes will be intense, with JetBlue and Delta also offering multiple daily trips which benefit from the feed of their hub operations at JFK. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines also serve the JFK/SFO route. United is hopeful that its wide-body flights will become a popular cargo option between New York and California, as well, adding valuable revenue in the belly of each aircraft.