The Transportation Department has mostly granted requests by
Hawaiian, Alaska and Delta for exemptions to a rule requiring airlines that
accept Cares Act grants to continue serving all of their destinations
through Sept. 30.
However, the DOT mostly said no to exemption requests by
Spirit and JetBlue.
Hawaiian had asked permission to continue with service
suspensions to eight mainland destinations, while Alaska had sought suspension of
its service to Kauai, Maui and the Island of Hawaii. The DOT approved each of those requests, noting that the
state of Hawaii has instituted a quarantine of 14 days on arriving passengers
and also supported the airline’s requests.
The DOT also looked favorably on six of seven requests Delta
made related to seasonal service. Under the terms of the DOT rule, airlines
must operate to every winter destination or to every summer destination.
Airlines that chose to use their summer schedule had to begin service to
destinations by April 16.
Delta, however, requested permission to begin and end summer
service to seven summer markets on the same dates as last year. That meant
launches as late as June 26 for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
The DOT said yes to those and four of Delta’s five other requests related to
The department, however, has looked less favorably on
requests by airlines to suspend service to year-round destinations within the
Spirit, for example, sought DOT validation for its April 8
suspension of service to 25 continental U.S. destinations. The department
rejected all of those requests, meaning Spirit will be required to relaunch
flights to those locales within seven days of receiving Cares Act assistance.
The DOT did allow Spirit to continue its suspension of
service to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, noting that Puerto Rico is allowing inbound flights to the island to arrive only in
Similarly, regulators denied a request by JetBlue to
discontinue service to 10 continental U.S. destinations. The DOT approved two
JetBlue service suspension requests — both to Puerto Rico (Aguadilla and Ponce).
The DOT has yet to weigh in on exemption requests by United,
American, Frontier and Allegiant as well as regional carriers SkyWest, Silver
and Southern Airways Express.
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