There are also regulatory issues. The CARES Act grants that will give airlines money to meet their payroll come with terms that require those airlines to maintain service to virtually everywhere they were already serving. The intent here is sensible: Some travel is essential and it’s important that people who truly need to travel by air retain a way to do it. But in some cases it appears to be leading to an excessive level of service, where even small destinations that previously had service from several airlines continue to get multiple flights a day.

One solution the airlines are advocating is allowing them to codeshare, with all the carriers still selling tickets to every city they used to serve but often putting the passengers with those tickets on a competitor’s aircraft. The Department of Transportation also has the power to waive the requirement to maintain service everywhere, and it seems to me they should do so with some small airports that aren’t far from larger ones: Is airline service to Monterey, California, really an essential travel link when passengers can drive just over an hour to the airport in San Jose? It’s not like there’s traffic.