Delta has announced that that it will stop blocking middle seats effective May 1st, but got a head start yesterday after 77 flights were cancelled and 209 delayed due to a pilot shortage. Adverse effects to the COVID-19 vaccine were also blamed, among other factors.
Delta Air Lines Easter Mass…Cancellations
Another holiday, another round of mass cancellations on Delta. First it was Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. Now Easter, after the airline that used to go months without cancelling a flight cancelled 77 flights yesterday.
A Delta spokesperson explained:
“Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and the overwhelming majority have been rebooked for the same-travel day.”
To help fill the backlog, Delta is “temporarily” filling middle seats on flights that are operating if passengers are displaced.
I reached out to the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) for a comment and was refereed to Delta’s statement.
But really, the answer is clear. The answer is a pilot shortage and the same old issue Delta experienced for the last two major holidays.
On Christmas Day, an ALPA spokesperson explained that the 2020 Delta fleet reductions, particularly the elimination of Boeing 777s and MD-80s, continue to create a staffing shortage, with “an unreasonable amount of pilots not in right seats at the right aircraft at the right time.”
He explained that for every 777 pilot displaced, 14-17 downline training events become necessary. 777 pilots were at the top of the pay scale. When Delta suddenly announced it would retire its 777 fleet earlier this year, it meant 777 pilots moved to the A350, some A350 pilots moved to the A330 or 767, 767 pilots moved to the 737, and so on. Since seniority is king, everyone had to move down to accommodate the displacement of senior pilots on the largest Delta jet. With a sustained backlog of training, the aircraft retirements and subsequent adjustments continue to render many pilots unable to work.
Today, the backlog remains, even as Delta continues to run training at maximum capacity. Pilots who are switching to a totally new aircraft type understandably require extensive training.
Increased schedules for the Easter holiday plus Delta’s seat blocking policy created a need for more pilots. Factor in a day in which some pilots reasonably wished to spend time with their families plus the side effects of a vaccine (I was a zombie for a day after my first jab) and the flight cancellations begin to make more sense.
Yesterday was another embarrassing day for Delta. Pilots are not retrained overnight and the lingering effects of Delta’s pandemic fleet retirements continue to take a toll almost a year later.
Was your Delta flight cancelled or delayed yesterday?
> Read More:
- Delta Blames COVID-19 For Thanksgiving Cancellations; Pilot Union Offers Counter-Narrative
- Delta’s Christmas Operational Meltdown Is A Familiar Tune
(H/T: View from the Wing // image: Delta)