With a stranglehold on most of the takeoff and landing slots at Newark Liberty International – the bulk of them obtained from its merger with Continental — United Airlines hasn’t had to worry too much about competition there. But that could change later this year, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA said it plans to open up more capacity at Newark beginning at the end of October; the airport has been operating under a maximum limit of 81 flight operations per hour since a “temporary” capacity restraint was put in place there in 2008.
Technically, the FAA lists Newark as a Level 3 slot-controlled airport, but on October 31 it will change that designation to a Level 2 schedule-facilitated airport.
FAA said the change will “increase access to the busiest airspace in the world” (i.e., the New York area), and will “allow more efficient use of the airport terminal and runway capacity.” The agency did not specify how many more flights it would allow at Newark, but it did say the changes will mean increased “market access and new entry for carriers and increased competition.”
FAA chief Michael Huerta said the change in Newark’s status is made possible by “significant improvements in on-time performance and delays at Newark.” The FAA said that the number of on-time gate arrivals at EWR from May through August 2015 was down 11 percent from the same months in 2007, just before the current slot controls were imposed. Average arrival and departure delay times were also down, and the number of flight operations has dropped by 8 percent, FAA said.
The FAA said its action also reflects a concern about capacity at nearby New York JFK Airport and how it might be affected by major runway reconstruction projects there in 2017 and 2018. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it expects a three-month closure next year for JFK’s Runway 4Right-22Left, which handles almost half of the airport’s landings.
Last fall, the U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint in federal court in an effort to block United’s plans to swap 24 of its slots at JFK for 24 Delta slots at Newark. DOJ noted that United already controls 73 percent of the slots at Newark, and said that the proposed swap would make it even more difficult for other airlines to add operations there and thus would hinder competition.
What do you think about Newark Airport? Can it handle more flights? How does it compare to JFK? Please leave your thoughts below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United’s newest, longest flight + Tipping Uber drivers + Qantas 747 Trip Report + Confusion over PreCheck policies + No-fee earlier flights