Travel is at a record high — but flight delays and cancellations are on the rise, too
Thousands of flights were delayed and canceled over the holiday weekend, and the trend is expected to continue
Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled over the Father’s Day and Juneteenth weekend, USA Today reports. This trend is expected to continue through the summer, if not longer.
A strained industry: On Saturday alone, over 6,300 flights within, into or leaving the United States were delayed, and 859 were canceled, according to NBC.
- This comes as summer travel is expected to boom back to pre-pandemic levels or higher. However, the industry is not at pre-pandemic preparedness.
The news: Airlines all over the country have already decreased their services as the summer travel season approaches its peak.
- Southwest Airlines has cut about 20,000 flights between June and Labor Day, and is bolstering hiring efforts in an attempt to better handle the chaos, NBC reported.
- Starting July 1, United Airlines announced that it will cut 50 daily flights from Newark, New Jersey, per CNBC.
- Previously, the Deseret News reported that American Airlines will cut flights from three cities: Ithaca and Islip, New York, and Toledo, Ohio.
What is causing these disruptions? According to the Deseret News, many pilots were laid off or encouraged to retire as the pandemic hit its peak, leading to a national pilot shortage.
- The air travel industry is still seeing other setbacks from the pandemic, recovering from layoffs and other problems and supply chain delays that arose during 2020, Forbes states.
- On Tuesday, 1,300 pilots from Southwest Airlines participated in a protest in Dallas, Texas, according to The Associated Press. Pilots stood in the hot sun to demand better pay and working conditions amid the strenuous working conditions.
- Southwest is not the only airline whose pilots are feeling stressed. Pilots from Delta, Alaska and other airlines around the country have held strikes to demand better working conditions.
Looking ahead: Kit Darby, founder of Kit Darby Aviation Consulting, told CBS News that the July 4 weekend is “not looking good” for travel.
- “Airline operations are notoriously fragile and vulnerable to disruptions when there is any kind of additional strain on their services. Now, with airline personnel stretched thin, even a spot of bad weather can lead to cascading delays and cancellations,” CBS reported.
- Hayley Berg, the lead economist for Hopper, also predicts a bumpy July 4 weekend for air travel. Demand is high, so Berg says to expect delays and cancellations, per Yahoo.