United Airlines has begun further reducing its Newark schedule and taking other steps to improve its operational stability at the airport, United’s largest hub on the East Coast.
“We’ve already begun 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, representing 19.6% of its mainline schedule. The carrier also delayed 54% of its flights over those six days as it struggled to overcome disruptions initially caused by severe thunderstorms in Newark.
Due to a shortage of pilots and air traffic controllers, the FAA in March asked airlines to reduce their summer schedules at New York area airports. United responded by reducing its Newark summer schedule from about 430 flights a day to about 409.
To prevent future operational collapse, the carrier has 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 will likely cut domestic flights from Newark. During a media call earlier this week, United’s senior vice president of global network Patrick Quayle said the carrier is not rethinking its international network from Newark.
On Thursday, United president Brett Hart elaborated on Newark’s plan, noting that schedule reductions are being implemented during peak flight hours. The carrier has also stepped up cooperation with the FAA’s Newark air traffic control team, he said.
And, United shifted its Newark schedule to increase outbound and return flights, which results in less disruption to the downstream schedule than a multi-point flight when weather or other issues affect operations.
Hart also said United will have six more gates to use 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. Analysts project the revenue figure topped $250 million, according to investment website Seeking Alpha.
United reported expenses for the quarter of $12.67 billion, up 12.7%, and a pretax operating margin of 9.8%. The margin would have been about one percentage point higher had there not been operating failures in June, Chief Financial Officer Gerry Lederman said.