American Airlines’ Chief Executive Doug Parker is warning that the carrier will have to discontinue service to several US cities if relief from the federal government does not arrive soon. This warning follows a letter sent to Congress and the White House by airline employee unions, pleading for an extension of federal payroll support for the industry.
In recent days, around 40,000 airline workers have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which showcases just how hard the global medical emergency has been for airlines. According to NPR, the letter urged lawmakers to pass a bill that would provide an additional $25 billion that would allow airlines to keep paying employees until March 2021.
“As leaders representing airline labor unions, US airlines, and trade associations representing the travel industry, we are frustrated that an agreement could not be reached to provide support to people suffering from the impact of the pandemic,” the letter said.
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American threatens to cut off small communities
American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker echoed that sentiment while warning of cuts, telling business news broadcaster CNBC,
“We can’t continue to wait. There will absolutely be discontinuation of service to small communities, and there will be much less service to larger communities.”
American Airlines has already suspended its service to Greenville, South Carolina, ending the only commercial airline service to a community of 78,000 people. As an example of why American Airlines is scaling back or ending flights to some rural destinations, Piedmont Triad International Airport near Greensboro, North Carolina, saw passenger numbers drop 57% compared to 2019.
This latest warning by American Airlines comes as both the White House and Congress have disagreed on terms for a new stimulus package that is badly needed by airlines and the nation.
American could change course if it gets aid
American Airlines has already started layoffs and furloughs since the previous aid for the nation’s carriers ended. However, it has left the door open for reversing the move, should aid arrive soon. A government condition to the assistance received in the spring was that airlines had to continue flying to the cities they were already serving, while avoiding any involuntary furloughs of staff.
American Airlines to fly to PKX
In other American Airlines news, the Dallas-Fort Worth-based airline has decided to fly to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) when flights from DFW resume next spring. In a statement, the airline said that flights between DFW and PKX would operate using a Boeing 787-8 aircraft with tickets available from Monday, October 12.
“Moving to Daxing International Airport in Beijing when flights return in March is going to offer our customers access to a state-of-the-art airport, with ease of connections as we plan to codeshare with our strategic partner, China Southern,” said Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer.
“While there is so much uncertainty in travel right now, we want to be well-positioned to serve our customers, shareholders and team members with the best service, convenience, and products all over the world when they’re ready. Daxing is very much a part of that bright future.”
American Airlines added that, while the terminal it will use at PKX is 70,000 square meters, passengers will never have to walk more than eight minutes to get to a gate.
Before passenger flights to China were canceled after the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, American Airlines flew to Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK).
Many Americans are eagerly awaiting what they hope will be another $1,200 stimulus check from the government. For their part, the airlines threaten massive layoffs and cutting services to select cities if no government aid is forthcoming. It is almost a certainty that something will be done, but Republicans and Democrats are having a hard time agreeing on anything with an election looming.
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