Nonstop flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) and most of Europe will be forced to shut down for at least the next month after a last-ditch effort to continue those flights during President Donald Trump's European travel ban fell short.
That ban, announced earlier this week and set to take effect at midnight on Friday, threw yet another wrench into a travel world that has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. While it only blocks foreign nationals from flying to the U.S. for at least 30 days, it will put major restrictions on how American travelers can fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
Starting this weekend, U.S. travelers flying home from most European countries will have to enter the U.S. through just 13 approved airports: Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Detroit (DTW), Miami (MIA), Newark (EWR), Honolulu (HNL), New York City (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), Seattle (SEA), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington, D.C.-Dulles(IAD). After landing, passengers will be subject to some additional screening.
Delta successfully lobbied to add Boston to the list of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved airports and Miami was added late, too. But Minneapolis missed the cut.
Effective immediately, the following flights will be suspended for at least the next month:
- Delta: Minneapolis to Amsterdam (AMS)
- Delta: Minneapolis to Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
- KLM: Minneapolis to Amsterdam (AMS)
- Icelandair: Minneapolis to Reykjavik (KEF)
While the European travel ban is set to last for just 30 days, Trump warned it could be extended. Delta has offered no guidance on when these flights may resume. And if it drags on much longer, Air France's nonstop flight to Paris and Condor's service to Frankfurt (FRA) could also be affected – as could Delta's summer flights to Iceland.
Passengers on flights that have been suspended can likely be placed on a connecting flight via New York City (JFK), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), or Atlanta (ATL). You'd also be eligible for a refund or a free change.
The ban exempts both the United Kingdom and Ireland, so Delta's nonstop flight to London-Heathrow (LHR) and the new Aer Lingus flight to Dublin (DUB) can continue. Aer Lingus hasalready slashed some of its summer flights between the two cities.
More than a dozen other airports nationwide are in a similar situation. Other airlines surely tried to add their hubs to the list of approved airports but fell short.
Delta already threw in the towel from other cities with flights to Europe. On Thursday, Delta announced it would indefinitely suspend service to Europe from Cincinnati (CVG), Indianapolis (IND), Salt Lake City (SLC), Raleigh-Durham (RDU), Orlando (MCO), and Portland (PDX).
Demand for travel has plummetted as the coronavirus outbreak spreads, leading airlines to reduce or pause flights worldwide. And while American travelers can continue flying freely, blocking Europeans from boarding U.S.-bound flights could force airlines to make even more cuts.
It's been a painful few weeks for Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Delta previously suspended flights to Seoul-Incheon (ICN) through May, and cut its daily service to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) down to just three flights a week.
People just aren't flying, and airlines have been forced to make some painful cuts. This travel ban just put the squeeze even harder on Minneapolis and other mid-sized airports around the country.
Lead photo courtesy of Chris Lundberg via Flickr