The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a statement issued on late Friday, May 22nd, that it had granted provisional permission for 15 airlines to suspend service, albeit temporarily, to 75 U.S. airports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A United Air Lines A320. Photo by Brandon Ravelo | AeroNewsX
The United States government requires that airlines must maintain minimum service levels in order to receive government assistance by way of the Payroll Support Program for airlines under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). However, many airlines have collectively bargained to stop service to airports with chronically low passenger counts that would only further drive their unsustainability with current air travel demand.
Major carriers such as United Air Lines and Delta Air Lines received tentative approval to halt flights to 11 airports, while JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and Frontier Airlines were approved to stop flights to 5 airports. Proposed suspensions by United include: Lansing, MI and Key West, FL, Delta: Flint, MI and Santa Barbara, CA, and American Airlines: Aspen, CO and Worcester, MA.
The Department of Transportation said all airports would continue to be served by at least one air carrier until normal passenger levels are expected to return. They further added that any objections to the order can be filed until May 28, 2020.
It seems as though airlines are becoming more and more desperate to minimize their losses, as some of the largest U.S. air carriers are collectively burning through more than $10 billion in cash a month as travel demand remains at an unsustainable level, even though the passenger count trends have risen upwards in the recent weeks.
Most of them have no need for more than half of their fleet of aircraft, with many airlines electively choosing to downsize, either by retirements, leasing out, and storing them in the desert because of the cutting of thousands of flights.