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Airlines Slash Flights to New York Area

As the coronavirus hits its stride in New York, airlines are not taking chances

April 6, 2020

American Airlines has become the latest of the U.S.-based airlines to slash flights to New York’s JFK and area airports

In an increasingly fluid situation, American will operate a daily flight to and from JFK to DFW, Charlotte and Miami. From Newark, American will keep a daily route to DFW and Charlotte. American joined United Airlines, which reduced its 157 daily flights to New York to 17 over the weekend. New York City-based JetBlue slashed operations in the city by around 80%. Spirit Airlines no longer services the city at all.

In a letter to employees sent through an April 5 report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, American Airlines senior vice president of operations, David Seymour, said:

“As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City and the surrounding region continues to increase, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for travel to the area, the demand for flights to the New York area is rapidly evaporating. While American has already significantly reduced our service to LGA and JFK, along with service to nearby Newark (EWR), we will temporarily suspend even more flights to these three airports starting Tuesday, April 7. The new, temporary schedule will run through May 6.

“Your safety and that of our customers remains our top priority and we will continue to stress the CDC recommendations throughout our system. To further protect the approximately 9,000 team members serving customers at the New York area airports, we will be taking additional measures to help keep them safe.

“LGA, JFK and EWR will only operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET as turn-only operations with no aircraft or crews remaining overnight at these three airports. The limited number of flights we will operate will have capacity restrictions in place to maintain social distancing onboard each aircraft. These flights will be crewed by those from bases outside of New York and will require fewer of our New York colleagues on the ground to serve customers and colleagues during this suspension period.”

The airline that had flown 271 daily flights in April last year will see a mere 13 flights this month. The bare-bones schedule will operate until the 6th of May.

American told Reuters that it will only operate flights between 10 a.m. ET and 6 p.m. ET as turn-only operations so that no aircraft or crews remain overnight at the airports, and so that fewer New York crew will be required on the ground.

New York-area airports are normally among the busiest in the country and some of the busiest in the world usually managing some of the most congested airspace. But coronavirus has reduced New York area airports into ghost towns as demand for air travel craters in the U.S. and abroad.

The concentration of coronavirus cases in the area has prompted several carriers to cut service to New York to bare bones, leaving the region more isolated. The cuts in the tri-state region are deeper in some cases than those carriers are making throughout their networks, as demand for air travel craters because of the disease. Planes are flying practically empty as airlines scramble to park and prepare fleets for disuse in a pandemic that, so far, has yet to peak in any region of the U.S.