American Airlines canceled or delayed over 1,000 flights on Wednesday, blaming operational disruptions on prior bad weather. Will further travel interruptions continue today?
Summer Woes Continue For American Airlines With Over 1,000 Cancellations Or Delays
Summer 2021 has been a summer of misery for American Airlines, as it faces a fundamental shortage of pilots that makes flight operations like a house of cards waiting to collapse. Bad weather in one station can wreak havoc across the system, leading to an avalanche of delays and cancellations.
This week is not shaping up well for American Airlines. Per FlightAware:
- On Tuesday, August 17th American Airlines cancelled 284 flights (roughly 10% of its schedule) and delayed 438 flights (16% of its schedule)
- On Wednesday, August 18th American Airlines cancelled 170 flights (6% of its schedule) and delayed 839 flights (29% of its schedule)
While American is not alone (Southwest and to a lesser extent United have also had a bad week), American Airlines is once again struggling with operational reliability and this time pilots are pointing fingers.
Last year, American Airlines furloughed over 1,000 pilots before federal payroll assistance kicked in. Pilots who were furloughed must be retrained before they can take to the skies and there has been a flight simulator backlog, which gives American little wiggle room when bad weather strikes and backup pilots are needed. When crews (flight attendants too) face delays and cancellations, they face “timeout” issues, which limit duty time between mandatory rest periods.
The Allied Pilots Association, the union representing AA pilots, notes that the issue goes beyond bad weather:
“Every airline gets hit by weather, but American seems to be less functional in management’s ability to get the aircraft crewed with pilots following a storm…
“They don’t have enough pilots to do the job!”
That’s directly from the mouth of Captain Dennis Tajer, a pilot for American and spokesman for the union. He told the San Antonio Express-News that 2/3 of cancellations are due to the pilot shortage, not the weather.
American, for its part, says it doing the best it can. Plans to close its pilot training center in Charlotte, North Carolina have been put on hold as AA experiences the largest and fastest growth in leisure travel in the 95-year history of the airline.
Check your flight status before heading to the airport. If your flight is severely delayed or cancelled, reaching out to American Airlines on Twitter often elicits a faster response than its call center. Check AA.com or American’s mobile app to see if you can rebook yourself.
This week is shaping up to be another operational disaster for American Airlines. While summer storms in Texas are hardly unusual, the lack of qualified pilots and overly-ambitious schedule continues to weigh American Airlines down.