HOUSTON – American Airlines plans to cancel hundreds of flights this summer in part due to a labor shortage.
“The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation and causing delays, canceled flights, and disruptions to crewmember schedules and our customers’ plans,” wrote a spokesperson for American Airlines. “That, 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.”
American Airlines said these cancellations will only affect 1% of its daily operations – roughly 72 of its 5,674 average daily departures.
Shayla Northcutt, of the Northcutt Travel Agency, said she had to rebook clients whose flights were canceled last minute. Her clients had a connecting flight in Miami before they headed to St. Lucia.
“Everything is having to be shifted, and then that costs people money,” said Northcutt. “They had to shift everything. Their work schedules, their children’s schedules, everything by a day in order for all of this to happen.”
Bob Mann, a former airline executive who is now an airline industry analyst, said these cancellations could have been prevented.
“I think they’ve realized they simply haven’t ramped up their pilot capacity in particular to match the schedule that they had published to fly and they are already seeing this in June, and I suspect the last week in June will be even worse,” Mann told KPRC 2.
Mann says the industry had an empty pipeline of pilots pre-pandemic and then made cuts to resources during the pandemic. He says some airlines should have been better prepared for the recovery of the industry.
“With the amount of treasury support that the industry did receive, this is a disappointment. It’s a disappointment that any airline who received that support didn’t use it to maintain the ability to quickly respond,” said Mann. “It’s not an easily fixed problem and this is why it was essential the problem be worked out a year ago when it was identified.”
A spokesperson for American Airlines told KPRC 2 the airline did not have any cancellations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Monday.
“We’re doing everything we can to support our customers impacted by these adjustments. The majority of these adjustments were made in markets with multiple flight options with the goal of moving customers to these different flights. When that’s not possible, our customers are able to receive a full refund when the schedule change is more than four hours from their original departure time,” the AA spokesperson said.