American Joins Other Airlines in Reducing Flights to NYC

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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American Airlines applying for 12 billion in cash and loans

American Airlines will apply for approximately $12 billion
in airline rescue grants and loans, CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom
said in a letter to employees.

“We intend to apply for these funds and are confident that,
along with our relatively high available cash position, they will allow us to
fly through even the worst of potential future scenarios,” the executives said.

Under the Cares Act, U.S. passenger airlines are
to receive up to $25 billion in federal grants and are eligible — along with
large travel agencies and aircraft maintenance businesses — for up to $25
billion in federal loans.

Grants must be used to maintain salaries and staffing levels
through Sept. 30. Airlines that accept them must also continue service to
markets they flew to as of March 1.

On Tuesday, the Department of Transportation clarified how
it will manage that latter requirement. The rule will pertain only to U.S.
destinations. In cases in which airlines serve multiple airports in the same
market, they will be allowed to consolidate to a single airport. Carriers can
also reduce the number of routes offered from any airport as long as at least
one route is operated.

For destinations that a carrier served at least five days a
week as of the last week of February, the carrier will be required to continue
a minimum service level of five days per week. If carriers had been flying
routes less than five days per week, they will be allowed to drop to
once-weekly service. 

The DOT will also allow the airlines that take federal
assistance to request permission to halt service in certain markets. Airlines
will have to explain why cessation is necessary.

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American Airlines Confirms Coronavirus-Related Death of Flight Attendant

American Airlines confirmed Thursday one of the carrier’s flight attendants died after contracting the coronavirus.

According to, American officials revealed that 65-year-old Paul Frishkorn of Philadelphia tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away earlier this week, marking the airline’s first employee death related to the viral outbreak.

Frishkorn worked as a crew member for American for 23 years and was a union representative for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).

“Our industry, our airline and all of us have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways,” the APFA said in a statement. “But until now, we hadn’t lost one of our own. This loss hits home in a very different, personal way from the headlines.”

The airline also announced earlier this week a series of temporary changes to in-flight policies as a way to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Some of the precautions include maximizing social distancing between employees and customers, reducing food and beverage offerings, closing most Admirals Club lounges and restricting the use of middle seats.

American officials released a statement about the death of Frishkorn:

“Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family who tested positive for COVID-19. Paul Frishkorn joined us as a flight attendant in 1997 and was based in Philadelphia.”

“Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers. He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the APFA.”

“Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American. We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.”

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American Airlines flight attendant dies of coronavirus, elevating fears in the industry

Paul Frishkorn, a Philadelphia-based American Airlines flight attendant and union representative, has died from coronavirus, the airline confirmed Thursday.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: American Airlines.

“Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family, who tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement from American Airlines released Thursday read. “Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American.”

Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 27,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, said in a statement, “It is with deep sadness we report that one of our own … has passed away from Covid-19.” 

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Frishkorn, 65, was described as a tireless advocate for the flight attendant corps who was spending time in the Philadelphia crew room “answering questions and assisting our members through this difficult time” before he fell ill.

“Paul is the first of our colleagues to lose his life as a result of this deadly virus. We are deeply saddened and are reminded that no precaution is too much to take during this horrible time,” the statement from Bassani said. 

Speaking by phone to USA TODAY, Bassani said that Frishkorn’s death has increased the already deep concern for flight attendants working amid the highly contagious virus.

“When this hits one of your own, it sheds a whole new light on the coronavirus,” said Bassani. “This does spread more fear among our ranks. This is a killer virus, unlike any we have experienced.”

Frishkorn was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his dealings with customers. Tracy Sear, a flight attendant for American Airlines, told CNN that he was a larger-than-life presence who enjoyed figure skating and loved to laugh.

American Airlines announced Tuesday it is implementing new safety measures that begin Friday and last through April 3. The airlines will offer “limited” food and beverage options to further provide for social distancing and minimal contact between flight attendants and customers,”

Passengers can also now switch up their seating arrangements to aid with social distancing and the airlines will “block” all seats adjacent to flight attendant jump seats. For flights less than four and a half hours, no meals or snacks will be served. Beverages will be available “upon request.”

Longer flights will do away with snacks but serve drinks as usual and provide regular meals to passengers in the main cabin. First-class passengers will be given their meals on “one tray versus in courses.”

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American Airlines makes changes to seating pet policies Covid 19 guidelines

In response to social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Airlines will block 50% of middle seats and all seats adjacent to flight attendant jump seats.

The carrier has also temporarily relaxed seating policies. Gate agents may now reassign seats to create more space between passengers. And once onboard, customers can change seats within their ticketed cabins subject to availability.

In another precautionary measure, American also suspended checked pet service, effective March 25, explaining that schedule changes have increased the risk of stranded pets. Carry-on pets and service animals are still permitted.

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American Cruise Lines Travel Advisor Assurance Plan

WHY IT RATES: American Cruise Lines is protecting travel advisor commissions on bookings impacted by the coronavirus. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

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American Cruise Lines has unveiled its full Travel Advisor Assurance Plan following the Line’s voluntary decision to suspend cruise operations through April 30, 2020. The new plan contains some of the most guest- and agent-friendly policies in the river cruise industry.

Most significantly, the plan includes assurance from American that it will protect Travel Advisor commissions for bookings impacted by COVID-19.

Earlier this month, American proactively rolled out flexible new options for guests and has now bundled them into one simple Travel Advisor Assurance Plan for agents.

Cruise with Comfort: This new option offers flexibility to guests for all new and existing bookings on cruises departing through August 31, 2020. Guests that opt for this offer have the ability to cancel for any reason up to 24-hours prior to the start of their Cruise Package and to receive Cruise Vouchers equal to 100 percent of the amounts paid.

Suspended Cruise Options: Guests booked on any cruises that have been suspended by American will have the option to receive a full money-back refund or Cruise Vouchers equal to 125 percent of all amounts paid for their Cruise Package. American has been contacting guests and travel advisors directly about their options for cruises suspended due to COVID-19.

Commissions: Advisor commissions that could be affected by either Cruise with Comfort or suspended operations will be 100 percent commission protected for Cruise Vouchers issued. Commissions will be paid based on the original sailing date for any payments made toward commissionable items.

“Our travel advisor partners have appreciated our commission policy in particular, because it compensates them sooner than later for their efforts,” said Susan Shultz, VP of Trade Relations. “Plus, Cruise with Comfort has helped advisors sell, because it allows guests the ability to cancel their cruise up to 24-hours before the cruise begins.”

“Over the past year, we have worked consistently to offer the most competitive travel advisor programs in the industry,” said Charles B. Robertson, President and CEO of American. “These changes have been very well received because they give guests the confidence to book travel, and they give advisors prompt compensation for their efforts. They reinforce our strength as a company, our commitment to our guests, and our gratitude to our travel advisor partners.”

For more information and details on American Cruise Lines’ Advisor Assurance Plan, Cruise with Comfort option, or the most recent information on suspended cruises, please contact American Cruise Lines at 800-894-8570, visit our website or click additional direct links below.

Cruise with Comfort

Current Sailings Update

SOURCE: American Cruise Lines press release.

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