With the government set to stop subsidizing the industry, airlines are <gasp> actually going to have to make operational changes to effectively deal with the lack of demand. Oh, the horror of free market forces actually forcing companies to make business changes!
This starts with American Airlines, who is reportedly preparing to drop two dozen small and medium city flights as federal coronavirus aid is set to end. The aid had previously mandated that airlines were not allowed to cut service approaches.
Carriers were previously required to maintain minimum levels of service through September 30 as part of a $25 billion aid package, according to CNBC. They were also prohibited from making layoffs. Under the aid package, American Airlines received $5.8 billion.
The purpose of the deal was to provide both payroll assistance and continued air service around the country despite the fact that planes didn't have any passengers.
American's forthcoming cancellations could start showing up in fall schedules that are set to begin next week, the report said. Changes still have not been finalized and the list of cities that could be cut has not been released. Both airlines and their respective unions have continued to push Congress for another $25 billion in support to keep paying workers through the end of next March, when hopefully demand can recover.
Both the Democrats and Republicans seemed to be in favor of such a deal weeks ago, but negotiations have stalled in Congress for the time being. As a result, the Department of Transportation had informed American Airlines that a planned extension of the benefits was not going to happen for the time being.
A DOT spokesperson commented: “The Department did not propose to extend the obligations, but will use the authority in the CARES Act to monitor ongoing access by the traveling public to the national air transportation system. The Department is also prepared to implement any new provisions of law in this area if enacted by Congress.”
United and Delta have not announced changes to their schedule yet. However, one source told CNBC, the "situation is fluid".