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Airlines Get OK From DOT to Consolidate Flights

The allowance will apply to airlines receiving aid from the government's $2 trillion fiscal package.
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The U.S. Department of Transportation will allow airlines receiving aid from the $2 trillion fiscal stimulus package to consolidate certain routes, essentially sharing customers.

CNBC was first to report the news. 

The idea is that multiple airlines fly certain routes, say New York City to Chicago, for example. Under consolidation, just one airline would fly a flight but all the other airlines could sell tickets for that flight to their customers.

The $2 trillion government aid package, a response to the coronavirus pandemic, includes $50 billion for airlines. Half of the money comes in grants to be used for avoiding layoffs.

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In recent days, just 5% to 15% of flights were full, CNBC reported. On Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration screened just 184,026 passengers at U.S. airports, a drop of more than 90% from 2.17 million passengers on the same day last year.

“I can assure you, we’re losing money on every single flight - and big money - so that can’t be sustained indefinitely,” Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. ReportCEO Gary Kelly said in a video message to employees Friday.

He wasn’t the only despondent airlines CEO. “We need to continue flying, as requested, and serving those that need to travel,” American Airlines  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report CEO Doug Parker said last week in a video message to his company’s employees.

“These are still extraordinarily difficult times, and we need to do everything we can support each other and ensure we do not waste one dollar of this government support.”

The U.S. Global Jets ETF  (JETS) - Get U.S. Global Jets ETF Report, which holds all the major U.S. airline stocks, has plummeted 53% since Feb. 12.