American Airlines said it plans to suspend service to 15 U.S. airports, over 700 flights, in October as Congress mulls appropriating an additional $25 billion in payroll assistance to the industry.
“This is the first step as American continues to evaluate its network and plans for additional schedule changes in the coming weeks,” the company said.
American has so far received $5.8 billion in payroll assistance as the COVID-19 crisis has badly hit the travel industry. Under the terms of the agreement with the U.S. Transportation Department, the airline has to maintain minimum flights through September 30. American said the suspensions were scheduled to last through November 3 but could be extended or revisited in the spring.
According to Reuters, American will halt flights to Del Rio, Texas; Dubuque, Iowa; Florence, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Huntington, West Virginia; Joplin, Missouri; Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Michigan; Lake Charles, Louisiana; New Haven, Connecticut; New Windsor, New York; Roswell, New Mexico; Sioux City, Iowa; Springfield, Illinois; Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania starting Oct. 7.
In a statement on Tuesday, the U.S. Travel Association called on Congressional lawmakers to resume negotiations over a pandemic relief package.
“Clearly, there can be no nationwide economic revival without a recovery of the travel industry. Despite the robust relief measures enacted over the past several months, huge numbers of travel businesses are still unable to access any of the assistance programs,” a spokesperson for the trade group said. “Travel industry businesses and workers cannot wait until September or until after the election.”
The group said its economists estimated that business travel spending fell $109 billion between early March and July, a drop of 71%, and that 80% of its members applied for relief under the CARES Act.
In June, Delta Air Lines announced it was suspending service indefinitely to 11 cities in the U.S. as part of a plan to reduce domestic flying by 80%, though it said employees will still be paid through September 30.
American Airlines said cities served by its American Eagle regional airline would be most impacted by the cuts.
Both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are adjourned through early September.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images