The airline got the first installment of federal money on Jan. 15 — $1.4 billion, 70% in the form of a grant and 30% as a loan.
In its filing for an exemption from service requirements, Delta said it “remains committed to serving as many points in its domestic network as reasonable and practicable to ensure that communities around the country will continue to be connected” to the air transportation system.
Delta said it determined last year that its winter service at the three locations was “no longer commercially viable in the highly depressed demand environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and related government-imposed travel restrictions.”
“Delta has no airport staff in place at these airports, in some cases has no contracted gate space, and has not been marketing or selling tickets for these winter services for over eight months,” Delta director of regulatory affairs director Steven Seiden wrote in the filing. “Suddenly re-establishing service to these airports would require several months’ lead time to hire, train and onboard staff; to negotiate new agreements with the airports; to reallocate aircraft and other equipment; and, in some cases, to set up facilities, kiosks and computer terminals (among other logistical, commercial and contractual arrangements).”
Delta on Jan. 20 asked the U.S. Department of Transportation “to exercise its ample authority and discretion” in considering the exemption. The DOT granted the exemption Jan. 29.