baggage claim at nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport
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This U.S. Airline Has Cut 76% of Its Routes

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baggage claim at nearly-empty O'Hare International Airport
Scott Olson/Staff/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Turbulent Times

Travel has been hit so hard by the COVID-19 pandemic that the U.S. Travel Association deems the industry "in a depression." At the end of May, even as airports began to see more people flying again, the number of passengers was 86% lower than last year, making it hardly surprising that airlines have drastically reduced the number of flights they operate. OAG, a global travel data provider, has found that U.S. airlines slashed nearly 1,700 routes between January and May. Read through to see which airline has ghosted 76% of its routes.

Related: 15 Ways the Coronavirus Has Changed Americans' Daily Lives

American Airlines
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American Airlines

Routes in January: 800
Routes in May: 520
Decrease: 35%
American has slashed capacity in response to "record low customer demand," and has said it plans to suspend 70% of its domestic capacity and 80% of international capacity for June as compared with the same time last year. International flights once expected to start in May and June are now eyed for June and July.

Alaska Airlines
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Alaska Airlines

Routes in January: 234
Routes in May: 141
Decrease: 40%
Like the rest of the industry, Alaska Airlines saw demand plummet in early spring and announced cuts in response. The carrier said it planned to decrease flight offerings dramatically for April and May — as much as 70% — and take 30 jets out of the air, sending staffers away with unpaid time off.

Frontier Airlines
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Frontier Airlines

Routes in January: 238
Routes in May: 141
Decrease: 41%
Frontier has recently expressed optimism despite the many challenges of COVID-19, predicting it would have its entire fleet back in operation by July. That came several weeks after the airline announced temporary route cuts to about 35 U.S. cities. Frontier said at the time that it was averaging a mere nine passengers per flight on aircraft designed to carry up to 186.

Southwest Early Bird Check-In
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Southwest Airlines

Routes in January: 652
Routes in May: 381
Decrease: 42%
Bargain flyer Southwest has grown to be the world's biggest airline (based on available seating capacity) as the pandemic forces competitors with more international flights to cut back. But even with that new distinction, it, too, has been forced to stop hundreds of flights. CFO Tammy Romo revealed in a March regulatory filing that a severe drop in demand was forcing Southwest to lower "seat miles" traveled by at least 20% through early June.

United Airlines
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United Airlines

Routes in January: 681
Routes in May: 370
Decrease: 46%
As the pandemic unfolded in March, United CEO Oscar Munoz sent a memo to employees saying the carrier would cut flights by 50% in April and May and extend some into the peak summer travel season. Munoz predicted that United's remaining flights would be less than one-third full anyway.

Sun Country Airlines
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Sun Country Airlines

Routes in January: 32
Routes in May: 17
Decrease: 47%
Sun Country was one of the first airlines to announce reductions. In very early March, the carrier revealed plans to reduce flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul and 14 U.S. destinations where COVID-19 was widespread, including Anchorage, Alaska; Boston; Dallas-Fort Worth; and Las Vegas. Sun Country Airlines got government permission to suspend service to 15 domestic markets until June 21.

Delta
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Delta Air Lines

Routes in January: 687
Routes in May: 341
Decrease: 50%
Delta also announced a slew of flight reductions as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. CEO Ed Bastian said in March that in response to decreasing demand, the airline planned to reduce international flights by 20% to 25% and domestic flights by 10% to 14% — though by May that was looking worse.

JetBlue
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JetBlue Airways

Routes in January: 149
Routes in May: 67
Decrease: 55%
JetBlue sought permission from Department of Transportation officials in late April to halt flights to 16 U.S. airports until at least Sept. 30. Cities on the chopping block included Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Detroit. After initially balking because it violated rules of the federal aid granted to the airline, DOT ultimately granted the request — JetBlue was doing an average 1.4 departures a day from those cities, according to The Points Guy.

Hawaiian Airlines
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Hawaiian Airlines

Routes in January: 36
Routes in May: 9
Decrease: 75%
In mid-April the DOT gave Hawaiian permission to stop serving eight mainland cities — New York; Boston; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Seattle; Sacramento, California; San Diego; and Portland, Oregon. Significantly, it was also given permission to suspend service to one of Hawaii's airports just as Alaska Airlines dropped service to three of Hawaii's four major islands.

Budget Airlines
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Spirit Airlines

Routes in January: 205
Routes in May: 49
Decrease: 76%
Spirit was another airline seeking permission in late April to suspend flights, telling the government that keeping the routes "during a period of almost zero demand is against the public interest as it wastes scarce financial resources while adding virtually nothing." Similar to the JetBlue case, the DOT granted Spirit's request and allowed for the suspension of six routes.