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JetBlue to cut Kennedy flights during runway work

JetBlue flights are on sale.

JetBlue flights are on sale. Credit: Getty Images

JetBlue Airways, which operates 30 percent of the domestic flights at Kennedy Airport, plans to reduce its flights when reconstruction forces closure of the airport's busiest runway.

The airline will fly 152 flights a day out of Kennedy in June, a cut of about 15 percent from the number of flights that JetBlue flew in June 2009, Mateo Lleras, a JetBlue spokesman, said Friday.

The reduction in JetBlue's flight schedule is due to construction on the airport's most used runway, Runway 13R-31L. The work begins in March, forcing runway closure for four months.

The closing of Kennedy's nearly 3-mile runway raises the specter of flight delays beyond what already exist at one of the nation's most delay-prone airports.

Construction plans call for the "Bay Runway," named because it runs along Jamaica Bay, to be closed until July. That will force JetBlue, the airport's busiest domestic carrier, and other airlines to reschedule flights and push back the start of their summer travel season.

In November, Kennedy Airport ranked at the bottom third of the nation's busiest 30 airports for on-time arrival performance, and in the middle of the pack for on-time departure performance, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The airport is operated by the Port Authority.

"We are extending our winter schedule throughout the spring and part of the summer to help avoid congestion during construction," Lleras said in a statement. "We expect there will be some impact in the form of delays, but we are partnering with the Port [Authority] and other airlines to ensure that impact is minimized."

Delta Air Lines is the airport's busiest international carrier. Representatives from the airline did not return phone calls Friday.

The $376.3-million reconstruction project will include resurfacing of the runway, runway widening, new drainage and electrical systems and navigational lighting.

The runway's blacktop will be replaced with more durable concrete, according to the Port Authority.

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