MIAMI – US airlines reduce all flights at small airports, causing their operational cessation as carriers go to larger hubs following the CARES Act’s minimum service.

To be eligible to receive part of US$60bn legislative package in grants and loans, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to operate at “reasonable and practicable” airports. Thus, companies are maintaining and consolidating services at one airport in large metropolitan regions.

Waivers benefit airline claims at small airports expense

Already 61% of the 126 opted airline waivers are suspended at the country’s smallest airports or at those that register less than one million passengers annually, according to The Points Guy.

About only 22% of the remissions are waivers classified by DOT as medium-sized airports and 17% of the requests were for service to the country’s 25 largest airports.

Consequently, United Airlines (UA), Delta Air Lines (DL), Alaska Airlines (AS), JetBlue (B6), Spirit Airlines (NK), Frontier Airlines (F9) and Hawaiian Airlines (HA) cut services to smaller airports until April while American Airlines (AA) and Southwest Airlines (WN) are expected to do the same.

These requested cancellations to airports in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, California and Hawaii have to pass through DOT to determine what are essential and non-essential services to keep operational.

The cease-of-flights order by several local governments has also been added as waiver by companies that look for reducing losses in governmental loans and grants, as maintaining operativity is not an option due to the ongoing travel restrictions.

Airport’s uncertainty when waiving up their operations

Even though carriers are trying not to suspend seasonal flights starting in May or June by requesting them to DOT, the resuming of these routes at smaller airports during the COVID-19 crisis is uncertain.

During March, US air passenger traffic dropped 96% from checkpoint figures, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), while US carriers halted 71% of their capacity, as reported by Airlines America (A4A).

The airport panorama is worst in those that receive less than one million passengers annually because of the air system network deeming them as non-essential routes, which is why they are set to lose against larger ones to serving the same destinations.

Prior to the CARES Act release, some airports had seen certain passenger services halted due to travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, but the current situation forces them to shut down their full operations due to zero demand.

Stay connected to Airways for the latest developments on the fallout of COVID-19 and the commercial aviation industry wirkdwide.