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Government-Mandated Shutdown Of Domestic US Flights Possible As Airlines Cut Flights Voluntarily

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Government-Mandated Shutdown Of Domestic US Flights Possible As Airlines Cut Flights Voluntarily

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Airlines in the United States are grounding their domestic flights due to lack of demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, as government agencies, too, consider bringing a halt to domestic aviation. 

What Happened

Stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and lockdowns have led to a sharp drop in passenger numbers. According to a source cited by CNN, planes that were flying at 85-100% capacity at the beginning of 2020, are now doing so at 50% or less. For airlines to breakeven, planes must operate at 65% capacity.

Compounding airline woes is the number of Transportation Security Administration officers testing positive for COVID-19. Data released by the TSA indicates 25 TSA screening officers have thus far tested positive for the virus as have five non-screening officers.

President Donald Trump and his advisers have exercised caution on halting commercial flights, as they also transport mail and essential cargo across the U.S., reported the Wall Street Journal.

Why It Matters

There were 8,105 flight cancellations as of press time, within, into, or out of the United States, according to Flightware.com, a global aviation software and data services company. 

Federal Aviation Administration controllers have been testing positive for COVID-19, and a dozen traffic-control facilities have had to be temporarily closed and disinfected. The quarantining of FAA workers is increasing the chances of a mandated shutdown of domestic aviation, according to the WSJ.

In the case of a shutdown of commercial aviation in the U.S., the White House could activate the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, comprising commercial airliners that can help airlift cargo during emergencies.

Major airlines such as Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) have been grounding planes due to the impact of the global pandemic. Delta has grounded 70% of its fleet of 600 aircraft as of last week. United Airlines Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: UAL) shed 60% of its domestic flights and 85% of its international schedule due to lack of demand and government restrictions. 

 

Related Articles (DAL + UAL)

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