The chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey didn’t like changing planes at Charlotte Douglas on his way to his weekend home in Aiken, S.C.
So he pushed United Airlines to restore a direct flight from Newark to Columbia, according to a BloombergBusiness report.
That money-losing route – competing with Charlotte service – is at the center of a scandal that led to the Tuesday resignations of United Airlines’ chief executive, Jeff Smisek, and two other top executives.
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Federal authorities have been investigating whether the nation’s third-largest airline had agreed to restore the route at the request of the authority’s then-chairman, David Samson, in return for improvements it wanted at Newark airport, according to The New York Times. The Port Authority oversees Newark airport where United has a large hub.
Before that, Samson’s best option would have been connecting in Charlotte, where US Airways has operated a hub. The airline has merged with American Airlines. That connection would require about a one-hour layover in Charlotte.
The investigation of the flights followed the inquiry into the scandal over lane closings leading to the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey. Senior aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had pushed the closures to punish a mayor who hadn’t backed Christie’s re-election.
United discontinued the flights within days of Samson’s resignation from the Port Authority, according to The New York Times.
Aiken is about 55 miles southwest of Columbia.
According to Expedia, the remaining options to fly from Newark to Columbia would be American Airlines with a Charlotte connection, Delta with an Atlanta connection or United with a Washington Dulles connection.