Coronavirus travel fallout: American, Delta cutting global and domestic flights as demand sinks

The stinging travel fallout from the coronavirus outbreak continues.

American Airlines early Tuesdayannounced sweeping flight cutbacks due a steep drop in travel demand. And unlike the significant cuts announced by United last week, they extend into the peak summer travel season.

Airlines started cutting flights to China in late January and have had to take a series of even more aggressive cuts since then as the virus spread around the globe and travelers grew anxious about flying.

American said it is reducing international seat capacity by 10% this summer, including a 55% reduction in flights across the Pacific. 

Flights within the United States will be reduced by 7.5% for the month of  April. Travelers holding tickets for travel on the affected routes will be rebooked on other flights or offered the option of a refund, even if they are holding a nonrefundable ticket.

Some specifics on the flight cuts:

  • Suspending service to mainland China and Hong Kong from Los Angeles through the summer. 
  • Suspending service to mainline China from Dallas through the summer.
  • Suspending service to Hong Kong from Dallas through June.
  • Suspending service to Rome from Philadelphia effective immediately through the end of April.
  • Extending the suspension of service to Milan through early summer.
  • Suspending flights to Rome from Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, through early summer. 
  • Delaying the seasonal resumption of several summer flights to Europe, including New York and Dallas to Rome.
  • Reducing service to Paris and Madrid for parts of May and June

American did not provide details on the domestic flight cuts but said it plans to reduce the number of daily flights on routes with several daily departures to affect fewer customers. 

Delta also planning cuts: ‘This is a fear event probably more akin to 9/11’ 

Meanwhile, Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in his first public comments on the coronavirus impact, said Tuesday morning at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials Conference that bookings are down 25% to 30% and the airline is prepared for things to “get worse.”

The airline is cutting international flight capacity by 20% to 25% and domestic by 15%.

Unlike the recession, which hurt business travel more than vacation travel, the falloff in bookings is broad, Delta executives said. “This clearly is not an economic event,” Bastian said. “This is a fear event probably more akin to 9/11 than what we saw in (the recession) in 2009.” 

Continue reading at USA Today