American Airlines announced Thursday it will eliminate service to 15 smaller US markets as cash-strapped carriers downsize their operations to cope with the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The cuts, which will affect smaller airports in most regions of the United States, will take effect on October 7 -- after the expiration of requirements under legislation that provided US airlines with billions of dollars of federal support.

US carriers have already signaled potentially deep job cuts from October 1 once staffing requirements under the federal CARES Act expire.

American has said it could lay off as many as 25,000 workers.

The group of cities that will lose AA service includes New Haven, Connecticut; Springfield, Illinois; Florence, South Carolina; and Roswell, New Mexico.

Airports in Texas, Iowa, North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Michigan, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania are also affected by the move.

"The airline will continue to re-assess plans for these and other markets as an extension of the Payroll Support Program remains under deliberation," the company said.

Airlines have been among the hardest-hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic
Airlines have been among the hardest-hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

Unions representing airline workers are campaigning for Congress to extend federal support for industry jobs.

While those efforts have garnered significant support on Capitol Hill, the prospects for additional aid remain clouded by partisan debate over a broader relief package.

Air travel has been one of the most battered sectors since the coronavirus crisis erupted earlier this year.

Americans seeking to travel abroad -- or even within the US to certain states -- face restrictions such as mandatory quarantines upon arrival.

Daily passenger visits to US airports are up from April lows of under 100,000 people nationwide, but remain exceptionally low.

Tuesday's count of 773,319 voyagers was about 70 percent below the year-ago level.

Another large US carrier, Southwest Airlines, said this week it had experienced a "modest improvement in close-in leisure passenger demand" in August.

"However, year-over-year revenue declines remain significant, and passenger demand and booking trends remain inconsistent," Southwest said in a securities filing.