By DAVID KOENIG
DALLAS (AP) – American Airlines has canceled more than 1,600 flights in the past three days, citing windy conditions in Texas and a shortage of flight attendants.
The disruptions were similar in root cause and magnitude to the problems Southwest Airlines suffered in early October, and raised worrying questions about whether major airlines are prepared for the busy holiday travel season ahead.
By early Sunday afternoon, American had canceled more than 800 flights – nearly 30% of its schedule for the day – after cutting nearly 900 flights Friday and Saturday, according to the FlightAware tracking service.
American’s troubles began at the end of the week, when high winds occasionally interrupted flights and prevented the airline from using all the runways at its busiest hub, Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport. . This made it difficult for American to put crews in place for upcoming flights, and cancellations and delays worsened on Saturday and Sunday.
âTo make sure that we take care of our customers and keep our crew’s schedules safe, we have adjusted our operations in recent days this month by proactively canceling some flights,â said David Seymour, director of the airline’s operations, in a statement. note to employees on Saturday.
Seymour said American was able to place most of the stranded travelers on other flights the same day.
An American spokeswoman said the airline expects considerable improvement from Monday, although there is “a residual impact from the weekend.” As of noon as of Sunday, American had canceled nearly 50 flights as of Monday, according to FlightAware.
Earlier in October, Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights after disruptions that started with weather problems in Florida and were made worse by staff shortages.
Airlines were not allowed to lay off workers during pandemic as condition of billions of dollars in federal pandemic aid – American temporarily laid off 19,000 workers when money expired last year, but canceled leave when aid was reinstated. That hasn’t stopped airlines from persuading thousands of employees to accept cash incentives and quit voluntarily, however. American, Southwest and others are now hiring employees to replace some of those who left in 2020.
Seymour said American was hiring staff, with nearly 1,800 flight attendants returning to work starting Monday and more on December 1, and at least 600 new hires on board by year-end. . He said the airline is stepping up hiring for other jobs, including pilots and reservation agents, in time for the holidays.