When the schedule changes load into Cirium each Friday night, we get busy putting together Cranky Network Weekly with the five biggest stories of the week. It’s a quick turn, with every issue going out Sunday afternoon before the week begins so that airline planning departments, Wall St, and other subscribers can get a jump on what’s going on.
I almost never post any of those stories here since they are for subscribers only, but I wanted to talk about United leaving JFK and figured there was no reason to duplicate the work. So, here’s an example of the stories we put together each week. You can subscribe here.
United Drops JFK Thanks to Low Fares
To The Point
- After failing to get more slots at JFK, United officially decided to drop its 2x daily flights from JFK to both LA and San Francisco after the summer season ends later this month.
- United says it’s about not being competitive, but what that really means is the fares were really low. We dig deeper into that this week.
A Little More Color
- United had made a very public, last gasp effort to get the FAA to add slots at JFK so it could grow its presence starting this winter, but that has failed.
- After this summer season, United will again cancel its JFK service – 2x daily to both LA and San Francisco – as shown in Cirium data this week.
- United made several claims suggesting that with such a limited schedule it couldn’t be competitive in the market, so we looked at the data.
- Unfortunately, Q2 DB1B data hasn’t been loaded yet, but that will happen soon. Still, we can come to conclusions without it.
- The chart above shows that when United first came back into the market at the very end of Mar 2021, local fares and loads were somewhat similar to Newark’s. Admittedly, these were well below where they were when United left and below pre-pandemic levels in Newark, but they were still comparable across airports at the time.
- Once winter arrived, it fell off a cliff. Load factors plunged, as did demand since that’s when leisure travel is weaker.
- With a subpar schedule at JFK, United wasn’t going to attract business travelers… unless they were very price conscious. That further put pressure on Newark, siphoning off the lowest fare travelers into cheaper fares at JFK. Without JFK flying, this should help bolster Newark and cause limited impact elsewhere since the schedule was never particularly useful for the most important business traveler.
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