JetBlue and Spirit airlines have won permission from the FAA to stop flying to a number of the cities they normally serve without forfeiting the right to return after the pandemic. FAA had previously turned down the request.
A number of larger airlines are now looking for relief from keep-the-routes-going rules, possibly by having one carrier serve each of a number of cities to reduce the number of planes flying carrying only a handful of passengers. The airlines cite both expense and pollution as reasons.
Under the CARES act airline bailout provisions, airlines are required to continue flying to all their usual destinations, even if only one flight a day. The two airlines, which operate mainly point-to-point flights said it put them at a disadvantage compared to major carriers with hub systems who could meet requirements with a limited number of flights over shorter distances.
The two airlines said that the requirement was forcing them to bleed cash at an accelerated rate, and asked to drop the cities while still keeping employees working—just not at flying empty planes around the country. Data from airline trade groups reports that the average passenger count on U.S. domestic flights in the week ending April 28 was only 17.
Each of the cities involved is either a hub or a major base for other airlines, so no city will be cut off from air service, although choices will remain very limited.