This Major Airline Is Canceling 100 Flights a Day, Starting Tomorrow
The carrier is struggling with a pilot shortage even as demand for travel soars.
Anyone who travels knows that choosing a dependable airline can be one of the most important decisions in the trip planning process. And even though carriers are still figuring out how to best serve their customers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are taking advantage of the recent surge in demand for travel by bulking up their schedules with extra departures and added destinations. But now, one major airline has announced it will be canceling about 100 flights a day as soon as tomorrow. Read on to see which carrier is cutting back on departures.
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The airline industry is dealing with unique challenges as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
After more than two years of decreased demand brought on by the COVID-19, airlines are finally seeing a rebound in travelers taking to the sky. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), 2,312,179 travelers passed through security checkpoints on May 30, increasing from 353,261 on the same day in 2020 and nearly matching the pre-pandemic levels of 2,499,002 recorded in 2019. Some carriers are even reporting record-high ticket sales brought on by spring break and early summer travel.
But even as seats on flights begin to fill up once again, airlines are still struggling to meet demand and changing their schedules as a result. Notably, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci recently issued an apology to passengers about a surge in flight cancelations and delays after admitting that a staffing shortage was leading to hundreds of travel interruptions.
Other major carriers have also pared down their schedules in light of labor issues. In April, Southwest Airlines announced that it would be cutting 8,250 of the 119,039 flights—or 6.9 percent overall—it had initially scheduled for June, per The Business Journals. And in March, United Airlines confirmed that it was axing several routes based out of Cleveland due to an ongoing lack of available pilots, Cleveland.com reported.
Another major airline just announced it was cutting hundreds of daily flights due to staffing shortages.
Now, it appears yet another major carrier will be cutting back the number of flights it operates. In a memo sent on May 25 obtained by travel news outlet The Points Guy, Delta Air Lines said that an ongoing staffing shortage was affecting its ability to recover from recent travel interruptions brought on by air traffic control delays and severe weather. As a result, the carrier said it planned to "relieve pressure by proactively thinning the schedule over Memorial Day and through the balance of June."
The following day, the airline then officially announced that it would also be cutting around 100 daily flights from its schedule from July 1 through Aug. 7 to help the company get ahead of any logistical issues. "This will build additional resilience in our system and improve operational reliability for our customers and employees; we'll continue to proactively adjust select flights in the coming weeks," the company wrote in a press release, per The Points Guy.
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The airline has struggled with a wave of delayed and canceled flights over the past month.
The past month has been tough for Delta: According to FlightAware, the carrier delayed 12,143 flights—or 17 percent of its entire schedule—between May 1 and May 25 and canceled 1,358 percent of departures, per The Points Guy. In the initial internal memo to employees, co-authors Allison Ausband, Chief Customer Experience Officer for Delta, and John Laughter, Chief Operations Officer for the airline, highlighted some of the airline's headaches.
"More than any time in our history, however, the various factors currently impacting our operation—from weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some workgroups (some due to COVID)—are resulting in an operation that isn't consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years," the memo reads. "Our recent performance clearly shows these factors go beyond the assumptions of our plan, and we will take action to address this imbalance."
"When pilot resources become limited, the impact to the operation is greater," the internal document points out. "Many pilots are stepping in to fly overtime in an effort to offset these challenges, but we need to take additional steps to support you and our customers."
Delta will be reaching out to any passengers whose travel plans are affected by the schedule changes.
Despite the ongoing woes, Delta will be reaching out to customers whose travel plans may be affected by any schedule changes to help avoid any issues with rebooking, Simple Flying reports. And while the airline specified that it didn't plan to exit any cities entirely, flights affected by the changes will mostly be those within the U.S. and Latin America.
In summarizing the airline's decision, Ausband and Laughter wrote: "We've never rebuilt an airline before, so we'll continue to assess, adjust and improve how we fly and how we support all of you entering this final stage of rebuilding."
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