American Airlines Says It's Proactively Canceling Flights

A spokesperson says demand, weather, and labor shortage are all contributing factors

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Over the weekend and in weeks to come, hundreds of American Airlines flights have been canceled for a number of reasons.

The Fort Worth based company said the spike in demand has had an impact.

"American is really kind of having a lot of problems as they ramp back up into the summer schedule. Their flying schedule is 20% bigger than United or Delta and other competitors really coming aggressive out of this pandemic," said Kyle Arnold, the aviation writer for the Dallas Morning News. "Some of their own staff, their own unions are questioning whether they've been too aggressive with adding these flights back up because if you remember, a year ago or even a couple months ago and they were flying at bare-bones levels just trying to survive the pandemic."

American Airlines said they've also had an issue in labor shortages with vendors and contractors.

Some of the issues include not having the staff to load food onto planes or having workers to push customers in need of wheelchairs.

Arnold said this isn't surprising given the recent climate of airports and staffing.

"Airports are struggling for workers right now, restaurants and retailers in the airports and the many thousands of contract workers. You know a lot of people were laid off during the pandemic and it's hard to get them to come back at this point as we've seen in other parts of the economy as well," said Arnold

The company also cites weather as a problem. It said the large storms that impacted major hubs such as Dallas, Charlotte, and Chicago over the last several weeks created a domino effect when it comes to crew schedules and having the flexibility to reschedule flights.

The goal is to ease the stress on operations and to minimize last-minute cancellations.

American Airlines said it's proactively canceling flights, between 50 to 80 flights per day through mid-July which is about 1% of its flying plan.

"American Airlines has been pretty proactive canceling a lot of these flights four or five... six days in advance, they don't want you and other airlines don't want you to show up at the airport and scramble because that causes a lot more trouble," said Arnold.

Thousands of travelers through Southwest Airlines experienced delays and cancelations this past week after the company had technical issues.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said they're trying to avoid day-of cancelations, but they have happened due to maintenance issues along with furloughs. Pilots are training to get back on track.

“One of the things that was interesting is American is still bringing its pilots back from furlough, all those people are not back on staff yet and the pilot unions said they are really feeling strain from American right now on getting people to fly," said Arnold.

He suggests travelers be flexible and have patience.

"If you're really counting on a tight connection or you know just flying into one place for a couple hours is so you might have to rethink that kind of schedule," said Arnold who also said they've heard of several hour delays. He also suggested people use apps versus calling customer service because no matter the airline, the wait will be long.

In a statement, Shannon Gilson, a spokesperson for American Airlines said, "The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation and causing delays, canceled flights and disruptions to crew member schedules and our customers' plans. That, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand, has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July. We made targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation. Our focus this summer - and always - is on delivering for our customers no matter the circumstance. We never want to disappoint, and feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport."

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