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Southwest Airlines to cancel 1,500 of 4,000 flights on Friday, Delta also reducing domestic capacity and making medical cargo runs

Southwest Airlines will be canceling 1,500 of its 4,000 flights as the coronavirus pandemic and strict orders from officials to stay home starts to take the lift out of the airline business.

The airline said the reduction was due to a decline of customers to airports and will go into effect Friday, the airline said in a news release. The CDC has issued a level three warning, asking people to avoid non-essential travel. Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered nonessential businesses closed as the state attempts to slow the coronavirus spread.

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“We’ve made this decision due to the number of governments restricting air travel across their borders, as well as guidance from the United States government, and we hope to resume normal operations to our international destinations on Monday, May 4, subject to change," the company said in a statement.




The reduction in domestic flights is an escalation from its decision Sunday to cancel all international flights. This could have a significant impact at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in which Southwest is the largest carrier. BWI officials did not return an immediate request for comment.


Customers with canceled flights have a few options, according to Southwest’s press release. A flight can be rebooked to change travel up to 60 days from the original flight at Southwest.com/rebook. Flights with available seating will display “available." A message on the company’s website states call volumes are high and officials recommend rebooking online.

If passengers aren’t sure of future travel plans, they do not need to take any action. The funds used for the canceled trip will be available for the named customer through June 30, 2021. This is an extension of the company’s normal year from date of purchase, according to the press release. Customers can use their original confirmation number to access those funds.

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Delta Airlines is reducing domestic seat capacity and lists adjustments to international services on its website. Delta is another major carrier at BWI airport.



With the adjustments to international flights, Delta launched a new cargo program to carry pounds of medical supplies around the world, the company announced in a statement. The company has made cargo runs with some of its “idled aircraft." That includes a run from Dublin to Atlanta on Tuesday to carry about 32,000 pounds of pharmaceutical supplies to Atlanta.

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Delta has increased their sanitary procedures for people who are still flying. This includes a high-grade, EPA registered disinfectant used on all flights, a new fogging process often used by the food industry, state-of-the-art air circulation systems, more hand sanitizer, more gloves for flight attendants and additional sanitation procedures for inbound catering equipment at international gateways, according to a statement.

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