Southwest Airlines will cease operations at Newark Liberty International Airport, effective November 3, due to the ongoing grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, the airline reported in its second quarter earnings statement. All of the airline’s New York City area operations will be consolidated at LaGuardia Airport.
In its second quarter report the airline said that, due to the delays in returning the Max to service, the airline’s available seat miles (ASMs) in 2019 will decrease by 1 to 2 percent, year-over-year, compared with Southwest’s original plan to grow capacity by nearly 5 percent, year-over-year.
“As such, we are taking necessary steps to mitigate damages and optimize our aircraft and resources,” Gary C. Kelly, chairman of the board and CEO at Southwest, said in a written statement. “I am grateful to our wonderful Newark Employees, who are a top priority, and will be given an opportunity to relocate to another station in our system, including LaGuardia Airport, where we are experiencing strong customer demand.”
Kelly also said that the airline will offer “options and flexibility” for the airline’s customers to recover planned travel from other area airports.
The 737 Max has been grounded while officials work to fix a software glitch that is believed to have played a role in a pair of crashes by planes operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, as well as other reports of sudden nosedives.
Work to fix the plane is ongoing, and according to anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, the aircraft might not be cleared to fly until next year. Even after being recertified for service, pilots will need to be retrained on the aircraft, which will reportedly take at least one month.