Having previously denied Spirit Airlines Co’s request to suspend a number of flights during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Transport has now decided to let the airline halt some flights until September 30, while also allowing JetBlue Airways to reduce the number of flights it operates over the same period of time.
Demand for air travel within the U.S. has fallen by over 95% and many carriers are being forced to reduce costs by cancelling flights and grounding planes. Part of the problem for a number of airlines has been that a condition of receiving a federal grant was that existing schedules had to be maintained unless specific permission was obtained from U.S. regulators.
Spirit will now halt flights to six airports, including Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver and Phoenix, while JetBlue can now cease flying to 16 major cities, including Las Vegas, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Chicago. JetBlue confirmed in a statement that it: “fully intends to gradually resume service to the levels prescribed at each of these airports as soon as it is both safe to do so and when even the slightest customer demand re-emerges.”
Spirit made it very clear that operating flights “during a period of almost zero demand is against the public interest as it wastes scarce financial resources while adding virtually nothing.” In the meantime, fellow U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines, having reported passenger numbers varying between one and 14 per flight to and from nine specific airports during the first three weeks of April, has also asked for permission to halt flights to these airports.Email Post to a Friend