After more than a year of struggling to get flights off the ground, American Airlines is now struggling to keep up with demand. Now, the company announced it canceled hundreds of flights this weekend. The reasons include staffing shortages, maintenance concerns, and other challenges.
According to FlightAware, American Airlines canceled around 180 flights, which is 6% of the airline’s mainline schedule. This represented about 2% of its total flights, including those under regional carriers. Unavailable flight crews accounted for about half of the canceled flights.
Bad Weather Caused Disruptions
In addition, the airline said it will trim its overall flights by about 1% through mid-July to help ease some of the disruptions. Bad weather during the first half of June in Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth caused some of these disruptions.
“The bad weather, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp-up of customer demand has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July.
We made targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation,” said spokeswoman Sarah Jantz.
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Bad weather impacted flight crews’ ability to travel to assigned flights. It can also mean that crews’ working hours can fall outside of the federally allowed hours.
As a result, Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, said the company should offer more overtime in advance. He also suggested that the company offer more flexibility in pilots’ schedules to cover staffing shortages. The APA represents American Airlines’ 15,000 pilots. “They’re trying to put a Band-Aid on something that needs stitches,” he added.
Addressing Pilot Shortage
AA is also racing to train all the furloughed pilots in between two federal aid packages that prohibited layoffs. It is also seeking to complete courses for aviators due to periodic recurrent training. Jantz said American expects to complete its training programs by the end of June. She also addressed Tajer’s comment and said the company does offer overtime because of its operational issues.
Last year, pilot shortages hampered many flights during the busy holiday seasons. Delta Air Lines canceled more than 300 flights last Thanksgiving weekend. Other airlines also had to cancel flights during a critical Christmas season over pilot shortages.
Shortage Even As Demand Surges
American Airlines’ cancellations come at a time when demand for travel is surging. Many Americans are itching to hit airports after enduring months of staying home. As a result, airlines are adjusting their expectations.
In an earlier filing, American expects second-quarter capacity to go down 20%-25% compared to pre-pandemic 2019. Other airlines are also feeling the crunch. United Airlines expects its capacity down by almost half versus 2019 numbers.
Meanwhile, Delta forecasts a 32% decline versus the same period. However, budget airline Southwest Airlines gave a more upbeat forecast for July. It said it sees its July capacity off just 3% from 2019.
Watch the WFAA news video reporting that American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights this weekend amid weather and labor shortages:
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