Coronavirus: Delta, United and American Airlines slash transatlantic capacity

16 Mar 2020 by Jenni Reid
Amsterdam, Netherlands - April 21, 2015: A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 with the registration N808NW takes off from Amsterdam Airport (AMS) in the Netherlands. Delta is one out of the three major American legacy carriers with its headquarters in Atlanta.

US airlines have announced dramatic reductions in capacity to Europe as a travel ban on arrivals from 28 European countries, including the UK, comes into effect.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge disruption to the global travel industry, with airlines suspending routes, cutting capacity and grounding aircraft.

Many staff jobs are under threat in the short- and long-term, and passengers with flights booked have faced fast-changing advice and policies.

This is what the big US carriers have said about international capacity reductions in the coming month.


Delta said it will “significantly reduce” its US to Europe services beginning Monday, March 16.

It will also suspend service between JFK and Mumbai starting Tuesday, March 17.

The airline will operate one daily flight  between:

  • Atlanta and Amsterdam
  • Atlanta and Heathrow
  • Atlanta and Paris Charles De Gaulle
  • Detroit and Amsterdam
  • JFK and Heathrow

It said it would still provide “access to multiple destinations throughout Europe through Delta’s expanded joint venture partnership with Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.”

The airlines plan to continue flights to select US destinations.

However, the Air France-KLM group will also be cutting capacity across its network by between 70 and 90 per cent over the next two months.

Delta will also reduce its domestic seat capacity by 10-15 per cent, and has suspended various services to China, Japan and South Korea.

United Airlines Boeing 777-300ER / photo courtesy of United Airlines


The carrier is planning to halve overall capacity in April and May.

On European routes, it said its regular schedule from Europe to the US would continue through March 20, except Houston-London and Denver-London, which will be suspended as of March 16.

From March 20 through the end of April, it plans to fly daily to Dublin, Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, maintain multiple flights to Frankfurt and Munich, and operate three daily flights to and from London and four flights a week to Lisbon.

However, this looks set to change following the announcement of restrictions on travel to the US from the UK and Ireland.

United said schedule changes would be made public on March 17.

Schedule changes are effective for Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam.


American Airlines

American announced over the weekend that it will reduce international capacity by 75 per cent year-on-year from March 16 to May 6.

Domestic capacity will be down 20 per cent in April and 30 per cent in May.

It has announced the following changes to Europe:

  • One flight daily will run from Dallas Fort Worth to Heathrow and Miami International to Heathrow;
  • Suspension of flights from New York (JFK), Boston, Chicago, and LAX to Heathrow gradually over the next seven days to reaccommodate passengers and crew;
  • Heathrow, Dublin and Manchester flights from Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix will be suspended faster, as these airports are not approved gateways by the US Department of Homeland Security;
  • Final eastbound flights from Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix will be on March 15; final westbound flights returning from Heathrow, Dublin and Manchester will depart March 16;
  • Continued suspensions in other parts of Europe, including the delayed start of some seasonal routes as well as flights to and from Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Madrid, Munich, Paris CDG and Zurich through early May, or later, based on guidance from the US government and customer demand.

It has also suspended all flights to Asia, except for three flights per week from Dallas Fort Worth to Tokyo Narita, suspended service from LAX to Auckland effective March 16 (which was slated to end seasonal flying on March 28, and suspended service from LAX to Sydney effective March 16.

South America reductions and suspensions have also been announced.

Customers are advised to check the latest updates directly with their airlines, though note that customer service agents are currently facing extremely high demand. 

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