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United slashes New York-area flights due to coronavirus

United slashes New York-area flights due to coronavirus

(Reuters) – United Airlines (UAL.O) said late Saturday it will drastically reduce flights to two New York City airports amid the coronavirus outbreak.

FILE PHOTO: United Airlines passenger jets taxi with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

United said starting Sunday it will go from 157 daily flights total at Newark and New York LaGuardia to just 17.

Newark, the airline’s hub in the New York area, will drop from 139 daily flights to 62 destinations to 15 flights a day to nine destinations, while LaGuardia will go from 18 to 2 flights a day.

“We are mindful that United Airlines continues to provide an essential service during these challenging times. The airspace at Newark and LaGuardia is among the busiest in the world and we have an ongoing responsibility to get people and goods where they need to be,” United chief operations officer Greg Hart said in a note to employees.

United said regardless of whether employees are on duty, the airline will maintain pay and benefits of local employees in those locations. The reductions will be in effect for at least three weeks.

New York has been the hardest-hit U.S. state by the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus has now killed 3,565 people in the state, or more than 40% of all U.S. coronavirus deaths.

Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson on Saturday praised United’s decision to shrink “to essential service only out

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