Stories about airlines operating specific routes to curry favor with politicians are not all that uncommon, though proving it can be more challenging than not. Relatively recently the focus with United Airlines was on service to Atlantic City, a destination which had flights start right around the time that the Port Authority approved plans to extend the PATH train to Newark Airport (those flights have since halted). But it turns out that not have been the biggest boondoggle.
Federal investigators are now pursuing evidence that United operated a twice weekly flight between Newark and Columbia, SC more or less as a commuter service for former Port Authority Chairman David Samson. The flight operated on Thursdays and Mondays, ideally scheduled for a weekend getaway, and according to DoT data reportedly flew below 50% load factors for the 19 months it operated. The route was halted days after Samson resigned.
According to the story United has confirmed it has received subpoenas for information but provided no additional information.
And, at least for now, it just look bad rather than actually being bad. But it looks really, really bad for everyone involved.
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