US airlines are considering plans for a possible voluntary or government-mandated shutdown of nearly all domestic passenger flights, according to The Wall Street Journal.
While the paper says no final decisions have been made, sources have told it a shutdown is one of the options available as demand continues to drop due to COVID-19.
The extent of the US traffic decline was revealed in Transportation Security Administration figures which showed officers screened just 530,000 people at checkpoints on Friday compared to 2.6 million a year ago.
Airlines are reporting flights with just a handful of people on them as Americans are urged to stay home.
The Journal cited a flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Washington DC with just three passengers on it.
Worries about the impact of COVID-19 on air traffic controllers and pilots were also cited by the newspaper as among the factors driving the suggestion.
US carriers have been lobbying hard for compensation to help them weather the COVID-19 storm but a wider rescue package containing more $US50 billion earmarked for aviation remains stalled.
Meanwhile, UK media are reporting the government there is looking at part nationalizing the nation’s airlines, including flag carrier British Airways, in an attempt to save the nation’s aviation industry.