United Airlines CEO sent a message to employees Saturday announcing the temporary suspension of nearly 90% of all flights in and out of Newark and LaGuardia. The shift comes as airlines continue adjusting routes and schedules amid COVID-19 concerns as "the situation in New York and New Jersey worsens."
"You are on the front lines of this crisis at our airports and onboard out aircraft, providing an essential service to these communities and our customers," CEO Greg Hart said.
Newark Liberty International Airport, one of United's national hubs, had 139 flights in and out of the airport on a daily schedule, Hart said. The new, reduced schedule would drop that figure to 15, servicing just nine destinations instead of 62.
At LaGuardia Airport, where United offers a significantly smaller flight schedule, will transition from 18 flights per day to just two. Reductions at both airports account for nearly 90% of the airline's flights at each.
The service reduction will "require a substantially fewer number of employees to show up for work every day in those locations," said Hart. In his address to employees, Hart says all employees, on duty or not, will continue to receive pay and benefits through the duration of the service reduction.
"We're working closely with the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and a local network of medical volunteer organizations, including The Society of Critical Care Medicine, to coordinate free travel for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals form across the county to help treat patients," Hart said.
According to Hart, United plans for the reduction to last three weeks.
The announcement from the airline comes one week into the travel advisory issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Due to extensive community transmission of COIVD-19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately," the CDC advisory read.