American Airlines was forced to cancel more than 2,000 flights over the weekend, with almost 300 more cancellations Monday, as the airline continues to suffer staffing shortages. The cancellations have left thousands of flyers stranded at airports around the country.
According to ABC News, the airline cited high winds in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport hub on Thursday, along with logistical problems due to flight crew work limits, as the primary reasons behind the cancellations. ABC also reported that the flights left crews out of their scheduled positions, leading to cancellations that lasted for days.
“The problem with most of the large airlines is if they if one hub sneezes, the other hubs catch colds,” aviation expert Henry Harteveldt told ABC. “The airlines’ networks are all interconnected.”
“Unfortunately, when bad weather hits an airline at the end of the month, the problems are exacerbated because often crews are out of the legal amount of time they’re allowed to work,” Harteveldt said.
In an internal memo to staff, American Airlines COO David Seymour said that the airline was forced to cancel some flights “for the last few days this month” in order to deal with the scheduling difficulties. The memo said that the company would be able to make it through “the brief irregular ops period quickly with the start of a new month.” The airline is expecting reinforcements to help ease the issues, as 1,800 flight attendants are set to return from leave, which ABC reported should help to re-stabilize the schedule.
The U.S. Freedom Flyers, an organization of airline and transportation workers working to oppose the vaccine mandates imposed by airlines and the federal government, disagreed with the airline’s public statements. In a press release to The Daily Wire, the organization blamed the staff shortages on stresses imposed on staff because of vaccine rules.
“The system is stressed as it is and now we have unions coming out and gaslighting their members that if they are unvaccinated, they need counseling and education,” said Freedom Flyers founding member Jason Kusinich, citing an email by the president of the American Airlines Pilots’ Union, which said unvaccinated crew members needed “education and counseling.”
“[I]t appears as though flight crews have reached their breaking point,” the memo continued. “Flight crews are acknowledging that because their Unions and Companies have broken their social contract, they are in a place where it is not safe for them to fly. ‘The unions and companies haven’t shown up for employees and now those employees aren’t showing up for work.’”
“Delays and cancellations are continuing and appear to be spilling over into Monday, November 1 as well. Perhaps the sooner the unions and company leadership start showing up for their represented members and employees the sooner operations can get back to normal,” the memo added.
The meltdown is the second time a major airline was forced to make mass cancellations in just three weeks. Southwest Airlines canceled some 1,800 flights on the weekend of October 9-10, with another 300 cancellations and almost 1,100 delays. The FAA cited similar issues of “severe weather” and flight crews “out of place.” Some speculated the shortage was due to a pilot strike, but Southwest distanced itself from that theory.