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United Airlines relaunching service at JFK after five-year absence

United Airlines relaunching service at JFK after five-year absence
© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines will return service to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York in February for the first time in five years, the airline announced on Tuesday.

The United service from JFK will be nonstop flights to Los Angeles and to San Francisco.

“The airline’s entry back into JFK after five years reflects not only its strong commitment to the New York City area, but a continuation of aggressively and strategically managing the impact of COVID-19 by increasing service to and from the places where customers want to fly,” United's announcement said.

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United’s move to provide increased options for transcontinental service is an effort to meet demands once air travel returns to levels from before the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have been waiting a long time to say this — United Airlines is back at JFK,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “Come early next year, we will be serving all three major New York City area airports with a best-in-class product to provide our customers unmatched transcontinental service from New York City and the west coast.”

United has a hub at neighboring Newark Liberty International Airport, but Kirby has said in the past that leaving JFK was a mistake, CNBC reported.

The airline is taking other steps to recover from the pandemic, announcing last month that it will offer free COVID-19 rapid tests to passengers between Newark and London as part of a four-week trial program. United, along with other airlines, had called on the Trump administration to pursue a coordinated approach to COVID-19 testing in order to safely reopen travel.

The airline industry has also urged Congress and the administration to provide further coronavirus relief. United, along with other airlines, lobbied for a $25 billion injection from Congress to extend the Payroll Support Program, which prevented airlines from furloughing employees until Oct. 1.