The US Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively granted fifteen carriers exemptions from their minimum service obligations covering a total of 75 points under its newly adopted relaxed interpretation of federal guidelines.

The tentative list of exemptions includes 14 active carriers namely:

In addition, the DOT tentatively granted an exemption to Corvus Airlines (7H, Anchorage Ted Stevens) d/b/a Ravn Alaska covering services to Goodnews Bay, Kodiak, Napakiak, Napaskiak, and Platinum. The airline has been inactive since early April and is currently under Chapter 11 reorganisation.

The decision, which is set to become final after May 28 when the deadline for objections passes, is a result of an early May order wherein the DOT said it would allow more exemptions for carriers to absolve them from the obligation to fly to points with little if any demand at this time. The rules were a relaxation of the earlier, much stricter interpretation of the guidelines included in the federal CARES Act, which resulted in many airlines retaining at least some flights to nearly all of their destinations. While earlier the DOT required specific reasons for exemptions, in the new approach it simply permitted the airlines to identify a number of points - depending on the size of their network - which they do not want to serve at this time without any justification.

In other developments regarding the minimum service obligations, the following filing and decisions were made between May 14 and May 25:

  • United Airlines filed a supplemental request concerning its seasonal services to Sun Valley. The airline would like to serve the city as planned only between June 20 and September 2, rather than for the entire summer season. Its first request covering the city was denied as DOT determined that Sun Valley is served by United both in the winter and in the summer seasons and, as such, should not count as a seasonal point. United argued that it is indeed a seasonal point given that "it is, quite literally, divided into two pronounced seasons [winter peak and summer peak], with service suspended in between the seasons". The DOT granted the exemption on May 22.
  • The DOT granted Alaska Airlines an exemption covering King Salmon and Dillingham, permitting it to serve the cities only during the peak summer season as planned pre-COVID rather than for the entire season.
  • The DOT agreed to consolidate service obligation for Grant Aviation (GV, Bethel) covering Akutan and Akun into a single point, correcting its mistake (airport serving Akutan is located on Akun Island).
  • Hawaiian Airlines (HA, Honolulu) requested the extension of its exemption covering Pago Pago in American Samoa through June 30, 2020, as requested by the government of the territory.