American Airlines cited several issues, including bad weather and short staffing, as reasons for delaying and canceling thousands of flights beginning the weekend that just passed.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that most of America’s cancellations Saturday were due to a lack of available staff. Saturday’s number of around 400 affected flights rose rapidly to more than 1,000 by Sunday morning.
The airline’s chief operating officer David Seymour had told employees in a company memo on Saturday that the weekend “will be challenging.” He said staffing would “run tight” as employees were delayed reaching their “regular flight sequence” because of additional weather problems.
By Monday morning, the airline had canceled around 10 percent of its domestic flights since Friday, where tens of thousands of travelers have been stranded around the country.
Some commentators have claimed that the staffing problems over the weekend are part of a “sick out” in response to America’s vaccine policy. A company spokesperson has denied that the cancellations are related to any mandate related to COVID vaccines, saying that the airline has “adjusted” operations by “proactively canceling some flights.”
A spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, Dennis Tajer, represents pilots for Americans and says that more than 3,700 of the airline’s pilots have not yet turned in their proof of vaccination status due by November 24. He added that if December 8, pilots who do not submit the paperwork will be prohibited from flying for American or any other federally contracted carrier. Tajer said that only around 73% of American pilots are vaccinated.
Even though the mass cancelation event this weekend is being blamed on temporary weather conditions, American stated that it plans to increase staffing in advance of the holiday season. It is predicted that more than 600 new flight attendants will join the airline by the end of the year, in addition to more than 1,800 who will return from leave.
Southwest Airlines suffered a mass cancellation of more than 2,000 flights last month attributed to bad weather in Florida.