Airlines struggle to keep up with travel demand, scrap flights amid worker shortages


Thousands of flights were canceled over the Juneteenth and Father’s Day weekend as U.S. airlines dealt with pilot and staffing shortages — even as air travel picks up dramatically for the summer season.

More than 2.4 million people traveled through checkpoints on Friday, the busiest day of the year so far, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Yet 1,100 flights were canceled that same day and over 850 more were scrapped on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. Hundreds more flights were canceled on Sunday, early data show.

Major airlines say they are curtailing daily departures to certain destinations because they haven’t been able to replace employers who left during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta Airlines’ pilots wrote an open letter to passengers last week asking for patience as the carrier strives to catch up with rising demand.

“We have been working on our days off, flying a record amount of overtime to help you get to your destination,” the letter states. “At the current rate, by this fall, our pilots will have flown more overtime in 2022 than in the entirety of 2018 and 2019 combined, our busiest years to date.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told the AP he is aware of the problem and his own flight from Washington to New York City was canceled this past week, forcing him to drive.

“That is happening to a lot of people, and that is exactly why we are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

Mr. Buttigieg said he wants to see how airlines handle the July 4 weekend before considering fines or other punishment for airlines that do not protect consumers by offering swift refunds or other remedies for flight disruptions.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.


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