Massive cancellations of American Airlines flights
Looking at the published data, American is approaching 400 flight cancellations in a four-day period around this weekend:
- Yesterday (Friday) American canceled 83 flights
- Today (Saturday) American canceled 111 flights
- Tomorrow (Sunday) American canceled 146 flights
- On Monday, American canceled 51 flights
I would expect the number of cancellations to continue to increase significantly. If American has already canceled 146 flights for tomorrow and 51 flights for Monday, that number is expected to increase significantly.
What is the cause of these flight cancellations?
Two different reasons are given to justify the flight cancellations, including “flight crew unavailable” and “operational decisions”. This suggests that these cancellations are likely related to the lack of US personnel. And then for cancellations due to “operational decisions”, it’s probably for situations where the Americans have prioritized one flight over another.
The cancellations appear to focus primarily on the Boeing 737 fleet, suggesting that the crew issues relate to pilots rather than flight attendants (since pilots are assessed on a specific aircraft type, while flight attendants are assessed on a specific aircraft type). flight attendants are generally trained on all major aircraft).
As I work to get official confirmation, the most likely theory at the moment seems to be that American has pilot shortages affecting the 737 fleet.
Admittedly, the pandemic has been extremely difficult for airlines logistically, and this particularly has an impact on pilot staffing. Indeed, when airlines grounded their planes at the start of the pandemic, many pilots ended up being retrained on a new type of plane (depending on seniority), and it’s a tedious process that doesn’t does not happen overnight.
We have seen Delta have several operational collapses while on vacation during the pandemic, but other than that there have been surprisingly few issues for American or United.
It seems random that these hundreds of cancellations are happening now. While a lot of people travel for the summer, it’s not like Thanksgiving, July 4th, Christmas, etc. which is usually when flight operations are at their peak. Then again, in terms of airline demand, I guess it might as well be, considering the number of domestic passengers.
At the end of the line
American Airlines is having an operationally difficult weekend, with hundreds of flight cancellations. I imagine that number will only continue to grow, given the domino effect of operational issues.
While I have nothing official yet, everything indicates that this is linked to a pilot shortage for the 737 fleet. If so, it remains to be seen what specifically happened this weekend. to cause so many cancellations.
Are OMAAT readers impacted by this weekend’s operational issues at American?