>>>This story has been corrected to reflect service to Kalamazoo. Grand Rapids, as first reported, is not included in the Delta proposal.
WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines asked the U.S. Transportation Department Tuesday for approval to temporarily stop flying to more than two dozen U.S. airports, including Lansing, Kalamazoo and Flint.
According to a Reuters article, U.S. travel demand has dropped by more than 95% because of the coronavirus pandemic and airports are trying to cut costs to stay in business.
Delta wants to suspend flights to nine airports: Lansing, Kalamazoo and Flint in Michigan, and Worcester, Massachusetts, Hilton Head, South Carolina, Pocatello, Idaho, Brunswick, Georgia, and Melbourne, Florida. Delta argues passengers can other use nearby airports, including Grand Rapids.
Delta says between April 1-April 22, just 1 to 14 passengers daily flew on the airline’s planes each way from those 9 airports.
JetBlue wants to halt flights to 16 U.S. airports, including Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Dallas and Detroit through Sept. 30.
Spirit Airlines Inc asked the department for approval to suspend flights to Charlotte, North Carolina, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle, Portland and Phoenix, arguing requiring the flights “during a period of almost zero demand is against the public interest as it wastes scarce financial resources while adding virtually nothing.”
The airlines must maintain minimum service levels in exchange for getting cash grants from the U.S. Treasury to assist in payroll costs unless the department issues a waiver.
JetBlue said it “fully intends to gradually resume service to the levels prescribed (by the Transportation Department) at each of these airports as soon as it is both safe to do so and when even the slightest customer demand re-emerges.”
Earlier this month, the department rejected most of Spirit’s requests to halt flights and said Spirit had to resume flights to the New York City area and to other tri-state airports after it suspended service to all New York, New Jersey and Connecticut airports it serves.
The department earlier also required JetBlue to keep flying to nine destinations, including Portland, Dallas, Houston and Minneapolis.
On Monday, the department said it rejected most requests by United Airlines and Frontier Airlines to suspend some flights.
United had sought to suspend flights to more than a dozen airports including Santa Fe, New Mexico, Green Bay, Wisconsin and Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Frontier asked approval to suspend service to 33 U.S. airports through June 10 and the department approved just three requests for service to Detroit, Charlotte and the Boston area.
United and Frontier declined to comment. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sandra Maler)