American Airlines cuts-off 15 cities, 55% of October capacity

(Bloomberg) – American Airlines Group Inc. will drop October flying capacity 55% from a year earlier as the coronavirus pandemic suppresses travel demand and the carrier ends service to 15 U.S. cities.

The airline is trimming operations during the industry’s slowest period, after families normally end summer vacations and business travel picks up.

The spread of the virus has damped demand since March, with passenger traffic remaining less than a third of 2019 levels, based on Transportation Security Administration screenings at U.S. airports. Business travel has been particularly light.

American said earlier this month that it will end service to 15 cities on Oct. 7, heralding possible similar reductions by other carriers if the government doesn’t provide additional financial aid. Airlines that accepted a first round of federal assistance to help cover payroll costs had to agree to continue flying to all locations they were serving as of March 1.

While the Transportation Department later authorized a halt to some flights because of sustained low demand, the broader restrictions are set to expire Oct. 1.

The carrier is adding 24 seasonal routes in the new schedule to try to capture more leisure passengers traveling from cold weather cities to warmer destinations, including flights to Miami, Phoenix and Mexico, American said in a statement Sunday. Most of the routes will operate on Saturdays.

American’s capacity in the quarter ending Sept. 30 was expected to fall 60% year over year, the airline said in July.