American Airlines suspends service to 15 markets in October as CARES Act service commitment expires

American Airlines Group Inc. will adjust its October schedule to remove service to 15 markets as a result of low demand and the expiration of the air service requirements associated with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This is the first step as American continues to evaluate its network and plans for additional schedule changes in the coming weeks.

These station suspensions will be effective October 7, 2020. For now, these changes are only in place for the October schedule period, which runs through November 3.

The airline will continue to re-assess plans for these and other markets as an extension of the Payroll Support Program remains under deliberation. The full, updated October schedule will be released August 29, and American anticipates releasing its updated November schedule by late-September.

The full list of suspensions is below and will be reflected on Aug. 29.

Service suspensions beginning October 7

City Airport Code
Del Rio, Texas DRT
Dubuque, Iowa DBQ
Florence, S.C. FLO
Greenville, N.C. PGV
Huntington, W.Va. HTS
Joplin, Mo. JLN
Kalamazoo/Battle Creek, Mich. AZO
Lake Charles, La. LCH
New Haven, Conn. HVN
New Windsor, N.Y. SWF
Roswell, N.M. ROW
Sioux City, Iowa SUX
Springfield, Ill. SPI
Stillwater, Okla. SWO
Williamsport, Pa. IPT

In other news, American is increasing the number of cargo-only flights in September:

When American Airlines relaunched cargo-only flights in March, its Cargo team started with 20 flights to two cities. This September, its cargo-only schedule will total more than 1,000 flights serving 32 destinations — doubling its cargo-only flying compared to August.

Since being reintroduced after a 35-year hiatus, these flights have helped the airline’s customers move more than 45 million pounds of critical goods around the world amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. But getting the first flight off the ground was nothing short of a symphony, played by team members from across the company.

“We didn’t have a playbook. We’d never done this before,” said Maulin Vakil, American’s Director of Cargo Customer Care. “We began to explore how much cargo we could take if we couldn’t transport passengers.”

Team members from the airline’s Cargo, Network Planning and Operations teams joined forces to write a new strategy. The plan would allow American Airlines Cargo to better serve its shippers despite a decreased passenger flight schedule resulting from the pandemic.

“We’re a passenger airline that also carries cargo, but the pandemic impacted that model,” said Chris Isaac, Director of Cargo Revenue Management at the time. “COVID-19 made parts of our passenger schedule unpredictable.”

After walking through dozens of what-if scenarios, team members discovered it would be possible to successfully fly regularly scheduled long-haul service with nothing but cargo in the aircraft’s belly. The first flight, however, would have to be planned with no stone unturned.

The final push to plan American’s first cargo-only service since 1984 came as the COVID-19 outbreak progressed and the vast majority of passenger air travel to Asia and Europe was suspended. On March 17 — four days after most air travel between the United States and Europe was paused — the team that had originally explored the possibility of cargo-only flying was called to put their plan in motion.

After exploring their options, the group began planning a cargo-only flight from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Frankfurt (FRA) scheduled to take off on Friday, March 20.

While figuring out the safety, logistics and economics of the flight was a challenge, team members were prepared for the test. Crews were briefed, safety procedures were established and international rules were carefully followed.

Four days after the team set their plan into motion, American operated a Boeing 777-300 from DFW to FRA as its first cargo-only flight of the 21st century.

With the flight to FRA a success, American began operating cargo-only flights to Hong Kong (HKG) shortly after. A few weeks later, team members planned safe and efficient ways to serve Shanghai (PVG), Beijing (PEK) and Seoul (ICN). Many of these flights deliver PPE and medical supplies from Asia to U.S. soil, as well as mail, clothing and hard goods.

An idea that initially started as a few test flights has since flourished, quickly becoming a dependable service for Cargo customers as demand around the world continues to grow. This September, more than 1,000 scheduled cargo-only flights will be accompanied by more than 1,200 passenger flights also offering cargo services — giving Cargo customers access to more than 2,200 flights throughout the month.