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American Airlines to Cut Service to Small Cities as Federal Aid Runs Out

 

Some small cities will be without air service altogether in October when American Airlines Group Inc. AAL -1.94% cuts flights, as a fight to extend additional federal funds has been mired in a broader stalemate over pandemic relief.

American said it would stop flights to 15 cities once a requirement that the airline maintain the routes in exchange for federal aid expires. American struck the small cities from its schedule from Oct. 7 through Nov. 3, describing the move as the first step in re-evaluating its network in the coming weeks.

American’s cuts will affect airports in cities such as Dubuque, Iowa, Joplin, Mo., New Haven, Conn., and Stillwater, Okla., where the airline operates regional flights that funnel passengers into its bigger hubs. Several of the airports where American is cutting back aren’t served by any other airline.

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To Build a Plane That Can Fly Itself, Start With a Pilot in the Cockpit

A Northern California startup has devised a novel strategy to create planes that can fly themselves, by first testing a new generation of automated flight controls during conventional cargo flights flown by pilots.

Starting with videos of a demonstration flight slated for release Thursday, San Francisco-based Xwing Inc. aims to jump-start such technology by showing its reliability on current turboprops already flying established routes in everyday conditions. Relying on a handful of specially outfitted Cessna Grand Caravans—workhorses of short-haul, single-pilot cargo operations nationwide—the company seeks to gather data about navigation, automated emergency maneuvers and autonomous landing features ultimately intended for commercial use without anyone in the cockpit.

Proponents say U.S. authorities could authorize selected flights without pilots over stretches of water or uninhabited regions as soon as the first half of 2022, potentially years before the Federal Aviation Administration certifies all-new, comparably sized autonomous designs being developed by competitors. In addition to the person flying the plane, pilots on the ground are slated to monitor trips and communicate with air-traffic controllers, at least initially. The single-engine planes carry some 4,000 pounds of cargo, and Xwing anticipates cruising at altitudes under 10,000 feet and at 230 mph—well below most airline operations.

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Southwest and American Trim More Flying

Airlines hunker down for fall with fewer flights and tougher passenger protocols as Covid-19 cases stall demand

American Airlines AAL -3.74% Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. LUV -2.30% said they were tempering expectations for an air-travel recovery, as mounting coronavirus cases have driven down bookings by as much as 80% in some parts of the U.S.

American, which has been flying twice as much as some of its rivals as part of a plan to capture summer demand, said Thursday that it will pare some flying. Southwest, which also maintained more flying this summer than United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL -3.59% and Delta Air Lines Inc., DAL -2.06% said cancellations are picking up and demand looks weaker heading into fall.

Executives at American said bookings have started to slide and business travel, which usually picks up after Labor Day, shows no signs of resuming. “In short, the crisis continues,” Chief Executive Doug Parker said on a call to discuss results for the latest quarter.

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At Boeing and Airbus, Finished Airplanes Pile Up

Airlines are putting off jet deliveries amid coronavirus, depriving manufacturers and their suppliers of cash

Boeing Co. BA -4.20% and Airbus SE EADSY 1.03% are making planes that airlines aren’t collecting, straining their finances as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on travel and the aerospace industry.

Airlines in many cases say they don’t want the aircraft for now, because they are unable to fill them profitably during a historic plunge in demand for flying. Travel restrictions are also hindering employees of some airlines from getting to the U.S. and Europe to pick up planes from factories.

The result: finished airplanes with nowhere to fly, and less cash for Boeing, Airbus and their suppliers as they slash production and payrolls. Customers generally pay more than half the purchase price when they receive aircraft. Boeing delivered 20 aircraft in the second quarter, down from 90 in that period last year. It was the lowest quarterly total since 1963, the early part of the jet age, according to an analysis of Boeing delivery data.

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