American Airlines’ plan to cut service to 15 cities in October was perfectly reasonable…except for the fact that it was not legally permitted to cut two cities on the list. Surprise, surprise…American now says it will continue to serve those cities.
American Airlines Won’t Cut Service To Three Cities…For Now
Last week, I wrote about the announcement from American Airlines that it would suspend service after taxpayer-funded payroll support expired in October. I discussed the political nature of the cuts (they targeted several states to inflict maximum pain) and suggested that American was not really serious about cutting service to all those cities. View from the Wing went even further, though, noting that AA’s service to Joplin (JLN) and Sioux City (SUX) fell under Essential Air Service (EAS) and could not just be abandoned. Instead, AA must apply to abandon those routes and cannot do so until another carrier steps up and begins service. He also specifically questioned the cut of Roswell (ROW) since that is where American parks its 737MAX, 757, 767, and 777 aircraft, which require constant maintenance to remain airworthy.
Sure enough, American Airlines announced that it would continue service to Joplin and Sioux City…for now. It plans to ask the Department of Transportation for permission to drop service “in the absence of a Payroll Support Program extension that maintains the CARES Act service requirements.”
American Airlines will also maintain service to Roswell according to The Dallas Morning News. It cites discussions with Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh as ongoing. A spokesperson noted:
“In the absence of an extension of the Payroll Support Program, we’re faced with a host of difficult decisions to right-size our airline, given the significant and sustained drop in demand we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While our flights to Roswell are among those that have suffered when it comes to demand and profitability, we have been in touch with local officials and will defer our decision to suspend service to the market as those conversations are ongoing.”
But again, asking mechanics to make the six hour round-trip drive or run charter operations to Roswell probably didn’t make sense.
These flights were removed from the schedule and now have been placed back, so I expect this will stick through at least the month of October. While AA should have known better in the first place, its corrective action represents how fluid this process is. If CARES Act payroll support is not extended, expect all sorts of wrangling from American, Delta, and United over the next couple months.
image: American Airlines