Spirit Airlines has responded to the charge from United Airlines that it is to blame for congestion at Newark Liberty International Airport with a scathing response to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Spirt Airlines Blames United Airlines For Newark Congestion
The letter, signed by Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie, precedes a recent letter from United Airlines which seeks to blame JetBlue and Spirit for the recent congestion issues at Newark Airport. United claims that Spirit Airlines has ramped up flights without coordination from the FAA, breaking a gentlemen’s agreement to spread out traffic at an airport that faces severe congestion but does not currently have slot controls. Spirit has responded that it does no such thing.
Contrary to [United] CEO [Scott] Kirby’s claim, Spirit follows FAA rules for Newark flights just as United does. All of Spirit’s Newark operations are either pre-approved by, or coordinated with, the FAA. Indeed, most of Spirit’s peak-hour operations are ad hoc flights made available due to cancellations by international carriers serving Newark. These ad hoc flights are not adding to hourly operations but simply replacing cancelled international flights.
Meanwhile, Spirit is still attempting to secure Southwest’s peak-hour runway timings that the FAA retried when Southwest Airlines pulled out of Newark in 2019 but a federal judge recently held were disposed of in an arbitrary and capricious manner.
Spirit Airlines contends that United is simply trying to protect its status as the dominant hub carrier at Newark, to the determinant of consumers:
United’s flying at Newark currently exceeds 70% of peak and non-peak operations, leaving only a very limited opportunity for expanding the low-fare competition Newark travelers continue to seek from Spirit. Flights cannot be added during peak times that customers desire. Yet Spirit currently operates only about 20 scheduled flights daily at Newark,…