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American Airlines cancels hundreds more flights as it tries to recover from weekend

Some 6 percent of its scheduled flights canceled on Monday, down from 20 percent the day before

(Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg)
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After bad weather and staffing issues forced American Airlines to cancel nearly 2,000 flights in recent days, operations at the Dallas-based carrier appeared to be recovering early this week.

American canceled about 338 flights Monday, some 6 percent of its scheduled flights for the day, compared to 1,060 — or roughly 20 percent — on Sunday. Between Friday and Sunday, the airline reported canceling about 1,900 flights. According to flight tracking site FlightAware.com, more than 470 flights also were delayed Sunday.

In a letter to employees over the weekend, David Seymour, American’s chief operating officer, said two days of severe winds at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a major hub for the carrier, reduced the number of arrivals into the airport by more than half. He said the airline was only able to use two of five runways normally in operation.

American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights amid bad weather, staffing issues during Halloween weekend

However, Seymour assured employees that the airline expected to get “through this brief, irregular ops period quickly with the start of a new month.”

Even so, the latest wave of disruptions continued to raise concerns about how prepared airlines will be as they move into what is expected to be one of the busiest travel periods of the year. It also comes as carriers are adding international flights in response to the lifting of travel restrictions Nov. 8 on international visitors who have been vaccinated.

American isn’t the only carrier that has run into operational issues as it attempts to ramp up operations to meet the growing demand for leisure travel that began this spring. The emergence of the delta variant of the coronavirus, however, slowed some of that momentum, with several carriers reporting a drop in bookings in late summer.

Yet even as bookings slowed, carriers still struggled to accommodate those who wanted to fly.

In mid-October, Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights. The carrier initially blamed weather and air traffic control issues in Florida for the problems, but later said staffing shortage also were a factor. The delays and cancellations, which began the Friday of a holiday weekend, cost the carrier about $75 million.

Southwest Airlines' woes continue as carrier struggles to recover from flight cancellations, delays

Seymour said that American is continuing to add staff across the company, with nearly 1,800 flight attendants returning from leave this week. In addition, roughly 4,000 new employees are expected to join the company by the end of the year.

American also ran into operational issues during the summer and moved to trim its schedule in early July. Southwest and Spirit Airlines also have had difficulties. Spirit, one of a fastest-growing low-cost carriers, said cancellations in August cost it about $50 million in lost revenue.

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