Spirit, JetBlue suspending flights to some cities amid coronavirus, DOT says

DOT allows airlines to halt flights to 16 cities through September

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Federal transportation officials have cleared JetBlue and Spirit Airlines to pull flights to some cities until Sept. 30 as the coronavirus pandemic has kept would-be travelers at home.

The U.S. Department of Transportation approved JetBlue’s temporary service suspension in 16 cities because demand is “extremely low” and continuing the flights would be “a significant burden,” officials wrote.

A Jetblue Airways Airbus A320 taking off from Fort Lauderdale Airport (iStock)

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The DOT also approved Spirit’s suspension in six cities, but denied an exemption to temporarily halt flights to two U.S. Virgin Islands airports.

Both airlines will be temporarily cutting service to Charlotte, N.C; Denver; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore., and Seattle. JetBlue will also be pausing flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas; Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Diego and Tampa.

A Spirit Airlines Airbus A321 taking off at Fort Lauderdale Airport (iStock)

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A Spirit spokesperson told FOX Business that the airline would contact travelers about refunds on the affected flights.

"The health and safety of our guests and team members continues to be our highest priority, and we look forward to returning to our destinations after a temporary suspension and adding more flight options as the demand for travel returns," the spokesperson said.

JetBlue didn’t immediately respond to questions from FOX Business.

The CARES Act’s coronavirus stimulus package requires air carriers receiving financial assistance to maintain scheduled service, but airlines can apply for exemptions.

JetBlue and Spirit aren’t the online airlines to seek exemptions. Delta, United and a number of smaller carriers have also filed requests to temporarily cut service to some airports amid the pandemic.

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People visit an international terminal at John F. Kennedy airport, Friday, March 13, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The number of air travelers is down dramatically, according to Transportation Security Administration data. TSA agents screened 163,692 passengers Monday, compared to 2.47 million one year earlier.

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