American Airlines will drop flights to 15 smaller U.S. cities in October when a federal requirement to serve those communities ends.
The airline blamed low demand during the coronavirus pandemic, which has triggered a massive slump in air travel. Airlines and their labour unions are seeking billions in taxpayer relief.
American said its schedule covering Oct. 7 through Nov. 3 will drop flights to cities including Sioux City, Iowa; New Haven, Connecticut; and Springfield, Illinois.
This is the first step as American continues to evaluate its network and plans for additional schedule changes in the coming weeks,” the airline said in a prepared statement.
Government subsidy expires
A massive pandemic-relief measure approved in March set aside up to $50 billion US in cash and low-interest loans for the nation’s passenger airlines. American was the largest recipient — $10.7 billion US if a pending loan wins final approval from the U.S. Treasury Department.
In return for taxpayer dollars, airlines were barred from furloughing workers and were required, in most cases, to continue serving destinations they had before the pandemic. Both of those conditions expire Sept. 30.
Passenger airlines and their labour unions are lobbying for an additional $25 billion US to keep paying workers and avoid furloughs through next March. Cargo airlines and contractors would get $7 billion US.