Update, 11:56 a.m. -- A spokesperson from American Airlines' Media Relations department has responded to a NorthcentralPa.com email inquiry. The spokesperson said, "Because we don’t yet have resolution about whether there will be an extension of the PSP and the associated air service requirements, we’ve decided to suspend service to IPT for November, as well."
Montoursville, Pa. – Starting today, Oct. 7, all commercial flights at Williamsport Regional Airport are grounded. Between political stalemates in Congress and the economic impacts of COVID-19, the question is not when –but if – flights will return to IPT.
As airlines across the country struggle to stay afloat while they wait for Congress to allocate relief funds. Small regional airports, like Williamsport Regional Airport (IPT), have been hit the hardest.
Just two days after IPT announced it's new direct service flight to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT), American Airlines announced it would be suspending service at 15 locations across the country, including IPT.
The decision was a "result of low demand and the expiration of the air service requirements associated with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act," stated American Airlines in a news release.
Today, Oct. 7, marks the first day of the suspension in service.
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Originally, American Airlines said the suspension was only in place for the October service schedule, which runs Oct. 7 to Nov. 7. However, a lack of congressional action combined with the President's comment late last night to halt COVID-19 relief talks until after the election, reportedly prompted the airline to consider prolonging its service suspensions.
Just hours later, however, a tweet from the President urging Congress to immediately pass COVID-19 relief funding, including "25 Billion Dollars for Airline Support" suggested the President had changed his mind.
The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
As of this morning, local Representative Fred Keller (R- PA 12th District), a vocal advocate for regional airports in his district, was on his way to Washington to participate in further discussions regarding COVID-19 relief.
Richard Howell, Executive Director of the Williamsport Regional Airport (IPT), is following the changing situation in Washington and is hopeful the resurgence of Congressional talks will lead to good news.
"As of now, we have no flights this month until November 3. From November 3 to December 7, we have flights in the schedule, but you cannot book them. That's all I have to tell you right now, things may change later today," said Howell.