American Airlines continues to cancel flights, having cancelled another 110 flights this morning, as it addresses operational difficulties surrounding 737 pilots.
American Airlines Cancels Flights
The Wall Street Journal offers a headline that “American Airlines Cuts Some Flights to Avoid Potential Strains” but the strains are already present, both on operations and the thousands of passengers impacted by hundreds of flight cancellations over the weekend.
- Friday, June 18, 2021 – 83 flights
- Saturday, June 19, 2021 – 123 flights
- Sunday, June 20, 2021 – 188 flights
- Monday, June 21, 2021 – 110 flights
Additionally, AA delayed 755 flights yesterday and has already delayed 149 flights today. Expect further delays and cancellations in the days ahead. Most delays have impacted flights operated by the Boeing 737. While American has not confirmed this is the root of the issue, it is not unreasonable to tie the flight cancellations to a backlog of 737 pilot certifications.
American Airlines announced it would trim 1% of its flights in July in a move to avoid a repeat of 2019, when a feud with mechanics coupled with bad weather led to frequent and wide-scale operational meltdowns. In that sense, the current cancellations are meant to avoid much greater pain in the weeks ahead. AA wants a bigger pool of pilots on reserve and to take pressure off maintenance workers.
American Airlines will still operate a July schedule roughly 20% larger than Delta or United, as measured by available seat miles. But as travel demand recovers more quickly than anticipated, American Airlines is feeling the squeeze.
Sadly, I think there will be much more to come: all three legacy carriers are feeling a huge squeeze right now when it comes to regional pilots and in some cases, even flight attendants.
I hereby predict a summer of discontent.
American Airlines will cancel flights proactively so that it has “breathing room” in case of delays. While I do not discount that is part of the issue, I tend to think American Airlines would not cancel flights with virtually no notice just to prevent operational problems: because last-minute flight cancellations do represent operational problems.
image: Nathan Coats