Airlines receiving coronavirus aid will be allowed to consolidate routes into fewer airports

Key Points
  • Airlines are required to maintain a certain level of service to receive government aid.
  • Airlines are struggling with a collapse in demand because of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions to stop its spread.
  • Congress approved $50 billion in loans and grants for U.S. passenger airlines in the coronavirus relief legislation.
Jets are parked on runway 28 at the Pittsburgh International Airport on March 27, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Swensen | Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that it will allow airlines that receive coronavirus aid to consolidate certain routes into fewer airports, giving carriers some breathing room in meeting the requirements for the relief.

Congress last week approved $50 billion in aid for U.S. airlines, part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. Half of the aid is available in grants that wouldn't have to be paid back, a victory for the airline industry that lobbied against an all-loans package. The grants are dedicated to maintaining payroll and airlines that accept them have to commit to not furlough workers through Sept. 30.

The Treasury Department late Monday issued application guidelines for airlines. Maintaining certain levels of service is among the requirements for the grants.

But carriers that fly to multiple airports that serve a certain city can consolidate that service "at a single airport serving the point," the Department of Transportation said Tuesday. For example, a carrier that flies into Newark, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport from Chicago's O'Hare can consolidate its flights into the New York City area into one airport.

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