WASHINGTON — Delta, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines have submitted requests this week asking the U.S. Transportation Department for permission to suspend flights to several airports around the country.
Airlines are required to continue providing minimum service levels as part of a condition of taking some of the money available through the CARES Act. But with travel demands falling to historic lows due to the coronavirus pandemic, airlines are sometimes flying planes with very few passengers.
JetBlue asked to suspend flights to 16 airports, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego and Tampa through Sept. 30.
As part of its request, JetBlue noted that certain flights from Boston to Minneapolis recently had only two customers on an entire 162-seat A320 aircraft.
"Unfortunately, such flights are operating with similar passenger loads to and from large hubs out of Boston, New York and throughout the JetBlue network," the airline's request stated.
Delta asked to suspend flights to nine airports including Hilton Head, Brunswick, Georgia, Kalamazoo and Flint in Michigan, and Melbourne, Florida. The airline argued each of those nine airports were within an hour's driving distance of another Delta airport.
Delta stated that between April 1 and April 22, just one to 14 passengers daily flew on the airline's planes each way from the 9 airports.
Spirit Airlines asked to suspend flights to five airports including Charlotte, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland and Seattle. The airline argued that requiring it to "continue to operate to these cities during a period of almost zero demand is against the public interest as it wastes scarce financial resources while adding virtually nothing to these points’ access to air transportation."
The Department of Transportation has yet to respond to the new requests.
The New York Times reported that earlier in the week, the department announced it had rejected most of the requests by United and Frontier to suspend some flights.
9 Airports Delta wants to suspend flights to:
Hilton Head, SC
16 Airports JetBlue wants to suspend flights to:
Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)
Denver International Airport (DEN)
Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
McCarran International Airport (LAS)
Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
Nashville International Airport (BNA)
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX)
Portland International Airport (PDX)
San Diego International Airport (SAN)
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Tampa International Airport (TPA)
5 Airports Spirit Airlines wants to suspend flights to:
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)