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Airlines Planning to Restore Flights from South Florida

Airlines serving South Florida’s major airports are beginning to restore flights, after cutting back their schedules by up to 90 percent at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Discount carrier Spirit Airlines, which is based in Miramar, operated just five flights a day out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport during May.

The airline plans to be back up to 550 daily flights nationwide by the end of July, according to John Kirby, vice president of network planning.

He tells the South Florida Sun Sentinel that a poll the company recently conducted reveals passenger concern is “kind of mixed” to returning to the skies in the age of social distancing.

“We are starting to see some green shoots,” Kirby says. “The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is starting to get a little more. I think people are starting to think about traveling again. Whether that translates into ridership, it’s hard to say. We are starting to see momentum.”

On Wednesday, Spirit announced it is resuming flights to 13 major U.S. cities this month in the Northeast, South and Midwest from Fort Lauderdale. By next month, it hopes to increase the number of destinations to 47 domestic and international cities, as foreign governments and territories lift travel bans and restrictions.

Industry sources add that JetBlue and Southwest Airlines are also planning to resume flights from South Florida airports to various destinations, including the Caribbean, in coming weeks and months.

Kirby says the public is “sick of being quarantined.”

Meanwhile, American Airlines is expected to begin doubling its daily flight schedule this month, including a total of 12 daily flights to and from 10 international destinations from Miami International Airport. Those destinations include Antigua, Ecuador, Guayana, Jamaica, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

The airline industry received $25 billion in federal payroll assistance in April, as the virus caused the cancellation of flights and shuttering of airports.