US flight cancellations continue after chaotic weekend

New York (CNN Business) — At least 800 flights across the United States were canceled this Monday afternoon, according to the flight tracking website. FlightAware. This follows another chaotic weekend of travel, with more than 1,500 domestic flights canceled on Saturday and Sunday.

Delta canceled at least 224 flights Monday, or 7% of its operations, while United canceled 128 flights and American Airlines 67. CNN has contacted all three airlines for comment on the flight cancellations.

“Delta teams continue to safely manage aggravating factors impacting our operation this weekend, including higher than anticipated unscheduled absences in some of our task forces, weather and air traffic control limitations. “said a spokesman for Delta Air Lines on Sunday.

“Cancelling a flight is always our last resort, and we sincerely apologize to our customers for any disruption to their travel plans.”

Experts are warning of a hellish boreal summer for travel. Although airlines received $54 billion in federal aid during the height of Covid to avoid involuntary layoffs, they now have fewer employees than before the pandemic, especially pilots, after offering furloughs and early retirements to cut staff and save money. As a result, operations can quickly collapse due to bad weather, understaffed air traffic control centers, or sick staff.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and New York’s Newark Liberty International were the hardest hit by Monday’s cancellations, with more than 100 flights canceled in Newark alone.

United, which canceled 56 flights on Saturday and 70 on Sunday, had said last Thursday that it would cut 12% of its daily domestic flights from its busy Newark hub. The cuts begin in July and involve about 50 daily flights.

According to FlightAware, there were 634 flight cancellations in the United States on Saturday and 868 on Sunday.

“More than at any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation — weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, rising rates of covid cases contributing to higher-than-anticipated unscheduled absences in some work groups result in an operation that falls short of the standards that Delta has set for the industry over the past few years,” said Delta’s chief customer experience officer, Allison Ausband, in an online post.

But critics say airlines should have anticipated these problems before the summer travel season.

“When you put the airline’s operating model to the test, that’s when you see the same results,” Capt. Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, the union for American Airlines pilots, said earlier this month.

With flights already booked to capacity, “not only does a flight cancellation cause a cascading effect, it causes a tidal wave of problems. It’s déjà vu all over again,” Tajer added, referring to the chaotic flight season. Christmas trips last year.

— Chris Isidore of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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