Halloween weekend has been rough for American Airlines. American Airlines canceled more than 700 flights during Halloween weekend. If you’ll include the 340 flight cancelations on Friday, that’s a total of more than 1,000 flights. The carrier blamed staffing problems and weather issues for the disruptions.
Halloween Weekend Disruptions
On Saturday, American canceled almost 460 flights equivalent to 17% of its scheduled flights according to FlightAware.com. Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, had to cut 86 flights or 2% of its scheduled flights on Saturday. American had to cancel another 285 flights or 10% of its schedule for Sunday.
American Airlines COO David Seymour said on a note that strong winds on Thursday started the problems. The airline had to cut capacity at Fort Worth International Airport and consequently prevented their crew to reach their next flights on time.
And by Saturday and Sunday, pilot and flight attendant availability were the reasons for most of the cancelations.
Seymour wrote in a note that “With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences”. According to Seymour, most of the affected passengers rebooked the same day. Also, he said that operations will stabilize by November.
Airlines experienced staffing problems when travel demand rebounded in late Spring. During the start of the pandemic, carriers had to ask staff members to accept leaves of absence and voluntary buyouts. Now that airlines are still looking to re-hire pilots and flight attendants, it’s common for airlines to struggle to adjust to disruptions.
Earlier this month, Southwest had canceled more than 2,000 flights. The disruption reportedly cost $75 million for Southwest. And to avoid a repeat of the incident, Southwest had to trim its remaining 2021 schedule.
According to Seymour, 1,800 flight attendants are expected to return from leave by November 1. And the rest of the flight attendants are set to return by December. Plus, the airline is currently hiring pilots, mechanics, and other airport workers. This way, “more team members will be in place for the holiday season”.