American ends service to Oakland, is first US airline to permanently drop a city after coronavirus

Jun 1, 2020

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American Airlines will end service to Oakland, California, on June 3 becoming the first U.S. carrier to say it would permanently exit a city because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oneworld Alliance carrier’s last flight from Oakland (OAK), AA2964, is scheduled to depart for Phoenix (PHX) at 12:41 p.m. local time on Wednesday, according to American’s website. It will be operated with a Bombardier CRJ700.

American spokeswoman Nichelle Tait confirmed that the airline will permanently end service to Oakland. The airline will continue to serve nearby San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose (SJC) airports.

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Travelers whose flights to Oakland are cancelled have several options. They can get a refund for their tickets or change to another flight to San Francisco or San Jose without a fee.

Nearly every U.S. airline has suspended service to destinations due to the crisis. With passenger numbers at historic lows, the U.S. Department of Transportation has allowed carriers to suspend flights to select airports within the rules laid out in the coronavirus aid package, also known as the CARES Act.

Some carriers have gone big, like JetBlue Airways, suspending flights to more than 20 airports across the country. On the other hand, Southwest Airlines has maintained service to all of the U.S. cities on its map. American has suspended flights to seven cities, including three airports in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and three in Hawaii.

Related: American says goodbye to shortest domestic route crown with new flexibility to drop cities

No airline, however, has said it will not return to a U.S. airport after Sept. 30, when CARES Act air service rules lift.

American can end service to Oakland because the airport is in the same metropolitan region as other major airports. The DOT allows airlines to consolidate flights in multi-airport regions like California’s Bay Area to as few as one facility without approval.

The airline previously suspended service between Oakland and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) due to the Boeing 737 MAX grounding last July, but continued to fly to the city from its Phoenix hub.

Related: A complete list of major carriers’ coronavirus change and cancellation policies

The move is another blow to Oakland. The airport lost JetBlue Airways in March, and long-haul discounter Norwegian Air unveiled plans to consolidate its service at San Francisco airport rather than Oakland in December. United Airlines ended flights to Oakland in 2012.

Oakland remains a base for Southwest Airlines even with the carrier’s planned schedule adjustments this winter.

American first began flying to Oakland after World War II. It served the airport until 2008, then again after its merger with US Airways in 2013, according to Cirium schedules.

Related: American CEO expects major US airlines to survive pandemic

The story has been updated to reflect American’s suspension of service to Oakland from 2008 through 2015.

Featured image by Ben Mutzabaugh/TPG.

 

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