American Airlines Cuts 1% Of Their July Flight Capacity Due To Staff Crunch Amid Travel Surge

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American Airlines has announced that the carrier will cut 1% of all flights from the schedule in the first half of July and possibly longer in an effort to deal with an uptick in travel demand.

The carrier just like other airlines has downsized their staff during the pandemic and is now facing a shortage of employees as the travel industry is trying to come online again, especially during the busy summer months.

American Airlines has been in the news for plenty of bizarre things lately such as asking its HQ employees to volunteer at DFW International Airport during the summer due to pent-up pandemic demand and a shortage of staff at their home hub.

American has asked nonunion workers to give up their free time to help the front-line workers at DFW with tasks such as helping customers in the international terminal and returning wheelchairs. Maybe the airline should have not purged as much staff from their payroll then they wouldn’t be in this situation right now? They got plenty of money from the U.S. government over the last year that’s for sure.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that American will cut at least 1% of their flights during the first July weeks.

American Airlines Group Inc., which rapidly increased flying to meet a surge in travel demand, is trimming some flights to alleviate potential strains on its operations.

The number of flights being culled is relatively small, amounting to about 1% of planned flying in the first half of July, the company said. But scrapping roughly 950 flights from the schedule is the latest sign of how tricky it has been for airlines to scale up after a year of depressed demand. The changes also illustrate how companies are trying to adjust to the post-pandemic normal, with the rapid rise in travel pressuring vacation-rental operators and rental-car companies as well.

More robust schedules and fuller flights mean more difficulties when things go wrong. American is trying to avoid a repeat of its disastrous summer in 2019, when bad weather and a feud with the airline’s mechanics snarled operations, an American executive said.

Storms that hit some of American’s biggest hubs several days this month, causing delays and cancellations, contributed to the airline’s decision to cut back to have more breathing room when unexpected problems arise, the airline said. …

That’s the amount of flights they are taking off the schedule proactively. The ones that are being cancelled on short notice aren’t included in this number for obvious reasons.

There are ongoing issues with cancellations at American as well as NBC reports. As of Sunday afternoon, 123 flights were canceled Saturday, 178 on Sunday and 97 were canceled for Monday – largely the result of a high number of sick calls, combined with maintenance and other staffing issues.

From what it appears American Airlines has lost control of it’s operations as a result of too ambitious staff reductions all while taking Billions in payroll support from the government in two separate rounds, the most recent one in March:

U.S. Airlines To Receive Yet Another $14 Billion Windfall As Payroll Support From Congress, American Scraps Furlough Plans

Executives lauded themselves for avoiding layoffs – with the help of taxpayer money that is – yet here we are a few months down the road and suddenly holes appear in the airlines network, unable to keep up with the traffic demand and tickets they sold.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see similar issues with other U.S. carriers as well, all of which facing strong demand of travel as the effects of the pandemic slowly subside. TSA is already reporting record numbers of passengers scanned at airport since spring of 2020 when Covid first hit.

Conclusion

If you’re traveling on American Airlines this week and in the coming month(s) it’s better to have a sharp eye on the schedule and consider that their current staff crunch might impact your travel plans. This weekend alone American cancelled roughly 400 flights and in the first July weeks alone 950 flights (1% of their capacity) is being cancelled proactively.

Maybe it’s time for a hearing so American Airlines executives can explain where all that money went they got in Payroll support and why their employee structure is so weak right now that travelers are inconvenienced once again.

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