MIAMI – A recent request from American Airlines (AA) to suspend Essential Air Service (EAS) to Joplin, MO and Sioux City, IA has been denied. In an order dated September 24, 2020, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has “[prohibited] American Airlines from terminating EAS at Joplin and/or Sioux City for 30 days beyond December 1, 2020.” Only if another carrier begins service to either of the two airports prior to December 1, AA is no longer liable to comply.

According to the DOT, EAS service is defined as keeping up a schedule of 12 weekly round trips to the target destination. With AA suspending flights as requested, Joplin would be left without scheduled air service. Sioux City also is serviced by United Express, operated by Skywest (OO), but not at the rate required by the recent order.

In an effort to solve the problem, the DOT also put out a call for airlines interested in the Joplin and Sioux City to submit proposals for consideration. Proposals are due by October 26, with approved service contracts beginning on December 1. In its request, the Department emphasized that proposals will not be given an opportunity to be revised once submitted, but negotiations may be allowed at the DOT’s discretion.

Photo: Kochan Kleps

American Airlines in Recent Months

In mid-April, AA announced the US Treasury approved US$5.8bn in financial assistance for the carrier in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Citing the carrier’s commitment to passengers, AA Chairman and CEO, Doug Parker, said that he “[recognized] the importance of [American’s] service as evidenced by the customers who continue to fly today for important reasons.”

This month, the airline announced it would begin service from Appleton, WI to Charlotte, NC beginning on November 5, 2020. The route opens up connections to over 50 cities in the southeastern US as well as 10 Caribbean/Mexican destinations and upwards of 15 cities in Flordia.

Additionally, it announced new routes from its Charlotte (CLT) hub, highlighted by flights to beach destination Puerto Vallarta (PVR). Pre-COVID-19, The carrier serves over 200 million customers annually.

Featured image: American airlones. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti