American Airlines Group Inc on Thursday announced that intended to suspend flights to 15 US airports in the month of October as demand for travel continues to remain low due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline said that over 700 flights will be canceled in October to and from the 15 airports decided upon. However, additional cuts were not ruled out or reconsideration was possible if additional support was provided by Congress. "This is the first step as American continues to evaluate its network and plans for additional schedule changes in the coming weeks," the airline said in a statement.

Debate Over Airline Assitance

Congress has been weighing for weeks whether to grant US airlines another $25 billion in payroll assistance that would keep tens of thousands of airline workers on the job for another six months and extend minimum service requirements. American said it will cancel just over 700 flights in October to and from those 15 airports but warned it could make additional cuts or could reconsider if Congress provides additional assistance.

American Airlines
American Airlines Wikimedia Commons

The debate over airline assistance has been stalled as Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on a broader coronavirus assistance package. Some lawmakers think Congress and the White House may not reach a deal until September.

Major US airlines that received portions of $25 billion in payroll assistance were required by the US Transportation Department to maintain minimum flights through Sept. 30, but the government could opt to extend those requirements. American received $5.8 billion in payroll assistance. Several airlines have been privately warning lawmakers they would be forced to suspend service to some smaller airports without assistance.

15 Airports Decided Upon

American will halt flights to Del Rio, Texas; Dubuque, Iowa; Florence, South Carolina; Greenville, North Carolina; Huntington, West Virginia; Joplin, Missouri; Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Michigan; Lake Charles, Louisiana; New Haven, Connecticut; New Windsor, New York; Roswell, New Mexico; Sioux City, Iowa; Springfield, Illinois; Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania starting Oct. 7.

Travel and transportation sectors, including hotels, restaurants, performance venues, public transit and passenger railroad Amtrak, are seeking significant government assistance. The US Travel Association said Wednesday that travel "businesses and workers cannot wait until September or until after the election. Congress must come together immediately to pass meaningful legislation."

(With inputs from agencies)