Coronavirus Forcing Airlines To Make Drastic Cuts

Coronavirus Forcing Airlines To Make Drastic Cuts

Sunday, April 5. American Airlines cut back the number of flights to New York City and the surrounding districts by over 90%. It is the latest airline to dramatically limit its flight service to the area, which has become the epicenter for coronavirus cases in the US.

Airports here are known for being some of the country’s most active and with some of the busiest airspace. But the pandemic has caused airlines to make no-frills adjustments that have left this part of the US feel even more confined.

In a memo, American Airline’s senior vice president of operations David Seymour told employees: “As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City and the surrounding region continues to increase, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for travel to the area, the demand for flights to the New York area is rapidly evaporating.” 

A little over a week ago, the CDC requested people living in the tri-state area to avoid nonessential domestic travel for two weeks as a means to contain the virus.

American Airlines said it would run eight departures from LaGuardia Airport in New York. Last April, it operated about 170. Additionally, it is cutting flights from JFK International from 80 this time last year to just three. At Newark Liberty International Airport, it will run only one flight from Charlotte and Dallas-Forth Worth. The airline plans to run this new schedule until the end of the first week of May. 

These changes come after President Trump suggested he may restrict flights between hard-hit regions in the US. Although the federal government hasn’t acted on this consideration, airlines have chosen to curtail nearly all services in the tri-state area.

American isn’t the only company making deep cuts to its New York City service schedule. United and Jet Blue are making changes as well.

On April 4, United Airlines announced it is dropping daily flights from Newark from 139 to 15 and 18 to two at LaGuardia. It plans to uphold these changes for a minimum of three weeks. 

Protections for Workers

Greg Hart, United Airline’s chief operations officer, assured local employees that they will still receive pay and benefits, despite the cuts. This action was praised by the Association of Flight Attendants, who called for a temporary pause on all nonessential travel.

In a written statement, Hart said, “While New York and New Jersey are the primary COVID-19 hotspots today, we will also watch the situation on the ground in all stations all across our network and evaluate the situation on the ground in stations all across our network and evaluate additional mitigation measures we can take in those locations as well.”

Airlines Ask For Aid

Airline companies have been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and there have been doubts if some will be able to recover. 

On April 3, airlines appealed for a part of the $25 billion government grant to avoid having to furlough or make pay cuts for employees until the end of September. 

Multiple parties, including Democratic lawmakers, labor unions, and industry members have pressed Seven Mnuchin, the Secretary of Treasury, not to set excessive stipulations on funding, fearing that it would not appeal to airlines and result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Current provisions compel carriers to run in the same cities they operated in before March 1, 2020. Still, airlines can consolidate and lower the number of flights into one airport to alleviate some operating costs.


  • Josephs, Leslie. “Airlines Slash Most Flights to Coronavirus Hot Spot NYC, as Area Grows More Isolated.” CNBC, CNBC, 6 Apr. 2020,

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Madison Powers
Madison Powers