In a Bloomberg article published on April 8th (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-08/airlines-to-cut-summer-flights-up-to-90-with-rebound-far-off), new summer plans for how the airline industry will proceed is discussed. The U.S came out with new regulations regarding service disruptions and the power that individual airlines now have when reducing routes. As the current pandemic situation looks like it could stretch into the summer, airlines now have the power to reduce services by up to 90%. For example, United is only operating 15 flights a day out of their Newark Hub, as opposed to the normal 400 flights a day.
Before the CDC came out with the recommendation to avoid all non-essential travel, airlines were flying “ghost flights”. In order to keep a contract with airports, airlines must fly a certain number of flights on that specific route to satisfying contractual agreements. Airlines were essentially flying empty planes all over the country to ensure they would not lose important routes and break any contract agreements. These new regulations are basically getting rid of these ghost flights by giving airlines the flexibility to choose if they want to fly a route based on demand.
There has been concern from smaller airports that do not see a lot of airline traffic and routes to begin with. Airports such as Akron-Canton in Ohio fear that this new regulation will have airlines completely canceling routes to their airport. This is important considering access to travel will now be very limited for people that do not live near a major airport.
While I do think that these new regulations will help the airline industry avoid some of the reported $20 billion in monthly losses, it is important for airlines to continue routes to smaller airports. Even if demand is low, it is important that those without access to major airports still have the opportunity to travel. Especially if some of this travel is necessary and essential.