By Ezra Gollan
Delta Canceled More Than 700 Flights Over Memorial Day Weekend
In what was yet another scheduling blunder for airlines in the United States, Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta-based carrier was forced to cancel hundreds of flights over Memorial Day weekend.
Flight tracking website Flight Aware reported that Delta canceled more than 250 flights or 9% of the airline’s scheduled services on Saturday. The troubles continued into the rest of the weekend as Delta canceled over 150 flights on Sunday. The airline claims poor weather and air traffic control issues were the main cause of delays but it is more likely that this was once again the result of compounding staffing shortages with many airline employees calling out sick as COVID-19 cases rise in the United States.
Delta told the Associated Press the cancellations on Saturday were a result of “air traffic control actions” and bad weather though Delta was well aware of the issues that would cause the scheduling mishaps in the days leading up to the weekend.
The airline had been warning customers leading up to Memorial Day weekend that there could very well be an unusual number of cancellations due to staffing shortages.
Delta Air Lines’ Chief Customer Experience Officer Allison Ausband said in a post on May 26 that “more than any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation – weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, increased COVID case rates contributing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work groups – are resulting in an operation that isn’t consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years.”
It’s not just Delta
Airlines around the United States have struggled to meet ambitious schedules as a result of staffing shortages. Alaska Airlines says they are beginning to get back on track after a disastrous spring in which the airline was unable to meet its own schedules while United and Delta have had to scale back summer plans to avoid further disruptions as the airlines head into what will be a very busy summer season. “In recent months, we’ve made a number of adjustments to minimize disruptions and bounce back faster when challenges occur.
And that’s why we’ll be taking additional steps in the coming days and weeks to strategically decrease our flight schedule this summer. From July 1-Aug. 7, we’ll reduce service by approximately 100 daily departures, primarily in markets in the U.S. and Latin America that Delta frequently serves,” Delta Airlines said in a post on May 26th. Reducing daily departures will be the best way for airlines to manage their operations and provide service up to their standards at a time when it just is not possible to operate at full capacity.