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American Airlines Slashes August Schedule as COVID-19 Surge Forces Passengers to Stay Away

American Airlines Slashes August Schedule as COVID-19 Surge Forces Passengers to Stay Away

American Airlines is to cut a portion of its domestic and regional flights in August after a surge in new COVID-19 cases across some southern and western states. New airline bookings have been steadily increasing after hitting rock bottom in April, although that recovery has been hit afresh by alarming Coronavirus spikes in popular vacation destinations and new warnings to stay at home in order to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

At the height of the Corona crisis, American drew down its schedule by as much as 80 per cent but since been able to unpark hundreds of planes as travel demand slowly starts to return. At American’s hub at Dallas Fort Worth, domestic capacity has been running at 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels throughout July – an increase of 13 per cent on June’s capacity.

Photo Credit: American Airlines
Photo Credit: American Airlines

Those gains, however, are likely to be wiped out as American adjusts its schedule yet again to changing passenger demand. Notably, rising cases in Texas, Florida and California, as well as reports that hospital ICU units are nearing capacity have led to renewed calls for American’s to delay their travel plans.

In an internal memo, American directly cited the recent increase in COVID-19 cases for a reduction in advanced airline bookings. The airline said it would “optimize” its August flying schedule by cancelling an unspecified portion of its domestic and regional flights.

With international flights already heavily restricted and running at a bare minimum, American does not currently believe any more international services will need to be cancelled in August.

The warning will heap further pressure on employees to sign up for early retirement or volunteer for an extended absence of leave to help American avoid involuntary furloughs. The airline has already told staffers that it will have an overage of around 20,000 employees by October, including as many as 8,000 flight attendants.

Flight attendants who joined the airline as far back as April 2002 are currently at risk of being furloughed.

Despite the rise in Coronavirus cases across the United States, Doug Parker the chief executive of American joined the CEO’s of United, Lufthansa and British Airways owner IAG in writing an open letter to U.S. and EU leaders on Tuesday pleading for travel restrictions to be dropped for American and EU citizens.

Instead, Parker suggested mass COVID-19 testing at airports, while admittedly challenging, would allow the safe reopening of transatlantic routes.

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