As few as 19 flights will depart each week from Burlington International Airport during the coronavirus outbreak under a recent order by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The order requires a minimum number of weekly flights for major carriers seeking financial assistance from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
An average of 229 flights departed each week from Burlington International Airport in 2019.
The order works as an incentive for commercial airlines to maintain their service during and after the pandemic, said Burlington Deputy Director of Aviation Nicolas Longo.
“Nationally, these airlines are making some of the most difficult decisions in probably the history of their company,” Longo said.
During the pandemic, airlines have had to park aircraft on tarmacs across the country, as declining demand for air travel has shortened their flight schedules, Longo said.
In a comment to the Department of Transportation, Frontier Airlines argued that the order would be burdensome on ultra low-cost commercial carriers as well as pose a public health risk in states with stay-at-home orders.
Under Vermont’s stay-at-home order, anyone traveling to Vermont from another state for non-essential reasons is required to self-isolate for 14 days.
“Operating air service with a crew and perhaps few or no passengers into a state or city under such an order undermines the very objectives those orders seek to accomplish,” said Frontier Airlines in a public comment.
Frontier Airlines regularly flies out of Burlington to Denver and Orlando three or four times a week with as many as 200 passengers a flight.
Beginning on Friday, Frontier will only have one scheduled flight to Denver.
“It’s such a critical piece for small regions like the Burlington region to have those direct flights and services,” Longo said.
The federal order will be in effect until Sept. 3 but could be extended by the Department of Transportation.
Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.
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