MIAMI – With several airports closing terminals due to the plunge in passenger demand, the CARES Act imposes airlines conditions of minimum service that affect small airfields.

The law passed on March 27 will provide a US$60bn financial assistance in the form of grants and loans to elegible carriers that retain a number of frequencies on existing routes.

However, tha act also says that in cases where multiple airports serve the same point, airlines would not need to maintain service to all of them as a single aircraft would serve the destination. For some companies that means fly almost empty to be elegible.

As a result, airports that serve smaller communities would compete with the ones located in larger metropolitan areas, lossing passenger traffic in the process as US carriers are reducing scheduled flights day by day.

Smaller airports affected by larger ones

As the implications of the legislation would have an economic impact on airport infrastructure and employees, the communities involved would see a loss of profits and connecttivity in local businesses amid already hard times.

In Ohio, Akron-Canton Regional (CAK), located 55 miles from Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE), will be left without flights as the later is considered a major airport.

The same would happen in Virginia at the Williamsburg International Airport (PHF), which is just 30 miles of the largest airport, Norfolk International (ORF).

However, entering in a CPA (Capacity Purchase Agreement) with airlines could be part of the solution for small airfields, a move taken by SkyWest Airlines (OO) despite low passenger demand.

The carrier came to an agreement with Southwest Wyoming Sweetwater Regional (RKS), located 200 miles of Salt Lake City, to fly at least five times at week to Denver, according to Flightglobal.

SkyWest also made an arrangement with Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK), 80 miles of San Francisco, to offer a double-daily service to Los Angeles International (LAX).

The CARES Act came a week after US major airlines, supported by Airlines for America (A4A), requested US Treasury loans and grants totaling US$58bn to face the current crisis.