United Airlines announced it will cut 50 daily departures from Newark, New Jersey, this summer beginning July 1, a 12% reduction of the carrier’s schedule there.
The airline said Thursday that passengers whose flights are affected will be contacted about alternative options.
United's Executive Vice President of Operations Jon Roitman said in a statement that the move is meant to keep things operating smoother after a series of bad days so far this summer.
"After the last few weeks of irregular operations in Newark, caused by many factors including airport construction, we reached out to the FAA and received a waiver allowing us to temporarily adjust our schedule there for the remainder of the summer," Roitman said. "We do not anticipate any schedule changes at our other six domestic hubs this summer."
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According to United, all the flights being cut are domestic, and all the markets the airline serves from Newark will continue to be connected, though some with lower frequencies.
United is not the only airline reducing its schedule amid this summer’s travel surge. American Airlines announced earlier this week that it would end service to four cities on its regional affiliates after Labor Day, and JetBlue previously announced a 10% reduction in flights this summer.
While a pilot shortage is behind many of these cuts, United insists the reductions in Newark have nothing to do with its own staffing.
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"Even though we have the planes, pilots, crews, and staff to support our Newark schedule, this (FAA) waiver will allow us to remove about 50 daily departures which should help minimize excessive delays and improve on-time performance – not only for our customers, but for everyone flying through Newark," Roitman said. "Our (COVID) recovery plan has been to only sell a schedule we could fly and put customers first, even if that meant sacrificing some short-term revenue."
Cancellations continue on Thursday
United's announcement comes as over 800 flights were canceled in the U.S. as of 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, and more than 4,300 were delayed, according to FlightAware. Among major carriers, American Airlines and United saw the largest number of cancellations, with their schedules reduced by 5% and 3% respectively. Those numbers do not include flights on their regional affiliates.
More than 120 flights coming in or out of Newark Liberty International have been canceled.
It's just the latest in a string of airline woes. The busy summer travel season began around Memorial Day weekend with airlines canceling roughly 2,800 flights over the course of five days, and carriers canceled and delayed thousands more last Friday and through the weekend.
American spokesperson Sarah Jantz said in an email that the airline had issued a travel alert on Wednesday and that Thursday's cancellations were "tied to yesterday’s Northeast weather and recovery from it." Affected travelers were able to change their bookings without paying extra fees.
A spokesperson for United said in an email, "The weather and related air traffic control delays are the main causes of today’s cancels across all airlines, including United."
The airline also has two travel waivers in effect for weather in the Northeast impacting its Newark and Dulles International Airport bases, and related to protests in Quito, Ecuador.
What passengers need to know
If your flight is canceled or delayed you have options. If your flight is canceled and you choose not to rebook, the carrier is required to refund any unused portion of your ticket in cash, even if you bought a nonrefundable fare.
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You could also be eligible for a refund or compensation in the event of a serious delay. In many cases airlines will proactively offer or rebook you on an alternative itinerary, though you are not required to accept the changes.
For those traveling on United through Newark this summer: keep an eye out for communications from the airline about changes to your itinerary, and research alternatives to make sure any new flights work for you.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: United Airlines to cut 50 daily flights at Newark starting July 1