This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
A June 3 U.S. Department of Transportation final order allowing airlines to proceed with cuts in scheduled air service at smaller commercial airports presents an opportunity for general aviation to fill in those gaps, according to National Air Transportation Association president and CEO Tim Obitts. Despite dozens of comments against the planned service cuts by 15 airlines, including those that received financial support from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the final order upheld their actions.
That affects at least nine airports in the West, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast U.S., such as Palm Springs International Airport in California, Williston Basin Airport in North Dakota, Mobile Downtown Airport in Alabama, and Portland International Jetport in Maine. Comments and objections to the DOT’s May 22 show-cause order that preceded its final order noted the cuts would result in job losses, limit access to transportation for medical treatment, interrupt those using air service to commute to work or visit clients, and reduce service for areas dependent on tourism.
“The utility of general aviation services, when faced by a shrinking airline footprint, is not a new topic of conversation,” Obitts said. But “as air service demand rebounds, general aviation businesses are uniquely positioned to quickly and efficiently assist in providing essential services that support and empower people, businesses, and communities nationwide.”