United executives said Tuesday that they have agreed to trade the airline’s JFK takeoff and landing slots to Delta Air Lines in exchange for Delta’s slots at Newark Liberty International Airport. That arrangement would need approval from regulators.
For United, the move further strengthens its dominant position at Newark, while it withdraws from an airport where it trails Delta, JetBlue and American in the number of passengers.
“The real bottom line here is connectivity, and all of United’s long-haul, international flights go from Newark,” CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg told WCBS 880. “So this is all about connecting flights from the West Coast to Europe through New York, meaning Newark, or Newark to Asia through San Francisco and Los Angeles. It makes more money for them and it makes more sense for them in terms of efficiency of operation.”
United also announced it’s bringing its “p.s.” premium service to Newark Liberty beginning Oct. 25. That means flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco will include perks such as flat-bed seats in first class, extra legroom in economy plus, in-flight Wi-Fi and on-demand entertainment in individual seatback monitors.