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American Airlines Drops Flights to 15 Smaller U.S. Cities

Stock Markets Aug 20, 2020 11:27AM ET
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© Bloomberg. Travelers wearing protective masks use kiosks to check-in at the American Airlines Group Inc. counter at San Francisco International Airport. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) Group Inc. plans to cease flights to 15 smaller U.S. cities because of low demand, beginning the first phase of dropping markets from its network as the coronavirus pandemic keeps millions of flyers off planes.

The reductions are effective Oct. 7, shortly after the expiration of service requirements tied to federal payroll aid, American said in a statement Thursday. Flights will end to such destinations as Springfield, Illinois, and New Haven, Connecticut, the carrier said. Additional changes are planned in the coming weeks.

American’s move heralds a likely wave of cutbacks by U.S. airlines if the government doesn’t extend a new financial lifeline. Carriers that accepted federal assistance to help cover payroll costs had to agree to maintain minimum service levels to locations they were flying to as of March 1. While the Transportation Department later authorized a halt to some flights because of sustained low demand, the broader restrictions are set to expire Oct. 1.

Lawmakers are considering a second round of aid, but progress has been stymied by a political stalemate over another stimulus package for the U.S. economy.

“The airline will continue to re-assess plans for these and other markets as an extension of the Payroll Support Program remains under deliberation,” American said. The carrier will release its updated October schedule on Aug. 29 and its November plan by late September. For now, the first round of suspensions are only in place through Nov. 3.

Travel demand in the U.S. remains at 25% to 30% of last year’s levels, based on passengers screened by the Transportation Security Administration at domestic airports.

Other cities that will lose flights under American’s plan are Del Rio, Texas; Dubuque and Sioux City, Iowa; Florence, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Huntington, West Virginia; Joplin, Missouri; Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan; Lake Charles, Louisiana; New Windsor, New York; Roswell, New Mexico; Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

American Airlines Drops Flights to 15 Smaller U.S. Cities

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