American Airlines halting service to 15 small cities after federal aid runs out

A member of a ground crew walks past American Airlines planes parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, April 5, 2020.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

American Airlines said Thursday it plans to cut service to 15 small U.S. cities with low demand in October after the terms of federal aid requiring the flights expires.

American and the other U.S. passenger carriers that accepted portions of $25 billion in federal payroll support were required to maintain minimum levels of service through Sept. 30.

American is cutting service to these airports: Del Rio, Texas; Dubuque, Iowa; Florence, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Huntington, West Virginia; Joplin, Missouri; Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Michigan; Lake Charles, Louisiana; New Haven, Connecticut; New Windsor, New York; Roswell, New Mexico; Sioux City, Iowa; Springfield, Illinois; Stillwater, Oklahoma; and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Airline labor unions and executives from carriers including American have urged lawmakers to provide another $25 billion in payroll grants and loans to airlines. While the initiative has gained bipartisan support in Congress, lawmakers have failed to reach a deal for another national coronavirus aid package that could include the additional airline aid.

American had been preparing to cut service to as many as 30 cities, CNBC reported last week. The cuts take effect on Oct. 7 through Nov. 3. The airports were selected because they have attracted little demand and aren’t likely to rebound in the near term, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Air travel demand has plunged because of the pandemic as concerns about the virus and travel restrictions keep many would-be customers away. The number of people flying has increased from more than five-decade lows hit in April but remains weak for the peak summer season.

Federal data show the Transportation Security Administration screened an average of 708,684 people a day this month, down 71% from a year ago.

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