American Airlines has joined at least three other carriers in dramatically reducing its schedule to New York City airports, as the Empire State – now the epicenter of the coronavirus global pandemic – prepares for a likely increase in cases and deaths this week or next.
Starting April 7, American will trim flights out of LaGuardia Airport (LGA), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), reducing service by at least 90 percent at each airport.
“As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City and the surrounding region continue to increase, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for travel to the area, the demand for flights to the New York area is rapidly evaporating,” wrote David Seymour, the senior vice president of American Airlines, in a letter to team members on Sunday.
The airline plans to run its new, temporary schedule through May 6.
With government and health officials saying the apex of the coronavirus is expected sometime this week in New York, American has joined United, JetBlue and Spirit in reducing flights.
The U.S. has more than 308,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 8,400 deaths as of Saturday, April 4. New York City has more than 20 percent of those confirmed cases, 63,300, and just over 1,900 deaths.
American also said it will operate flights only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, as “turn-only operations with no aircraft or crew remaining overnight.”
Last week, Spirit Airlines suspended service to LGA and EWR, as well as Niagara Falls International Airport, Plattsburg International Airport in upstate New York and Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn. JetBlue, which is headquartered in New York City, announced its own cuts to service in a memo to employees.
And on Sunday, United pulled the trigger on reducing flights.
“As the situation in New York and New Jersey worsens, we are taking another major step at Newark and LaGuardia to help keep our employees safe and play our part in helping to mitigate the spread of the outbreak in the Tri-State area,” Greg Hart, United’s executive vice president and chief operations officer, said in the letter to employees.
At Newark, a United hub, the airline is slashing 90 percent of its normal daily flights, going from 139 flights per day that fly to 62 different destinations to 15 daily flights to nine cities. At LaGuardia, United is dropping all but two of its 18 flights per day to four destinations down to two daily flights to just one destination.
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