American Airlines has canceled hundreds of flights throughout the U.S. this month — including at least 11 flights leaving the Charlotte Douglas International Airport this week.
American has canceled flights due to a spike in customer demand and labor shortages, along with “unprecedented weather” at major hubs like Dallas-Fort Worth and CLT, the airline told the Observer in a statement.
“The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation and causing delays, canceled flights and disruptions to crew member schedules and our customers’ plans,” the airline said in a statement. “… Our focus this summer — and always — is on delivering for our customers no matter the circumstance. We never want to disappoint and feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport.”
The canceled flights make up for about 1% of the airline’s daily operation in July, according to American.
The canceled flights are frustrating for American Airlines pilots, Allied Pilots Association spokesman Capt. Dennis Tajer told the Observer. The union represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots.
American Airlines struggles to get pilots back in cockpits after major weather issues, he said. That’s been a problem for the airline even before COVID-19, and the union has been pushing for an overhaul of the scheduling system, he said.
“It’s not a surprise this is happening,” he said.
Pilots are eager to fly, especially after facing job worries during the pandemic, Tajer said. But the airline is still working on training new and returning pilots after furloughing thousands during the height of the pandemic, he said.
And at least 1,000 American Airlines pilots retired during the pandemic with incentives, he added.
“But stuck in the middle of this are our passengers,” Tajer said.
All pilots have been returned from furlough and training requirements for returning those pilots are on track to be completed by the end the month, American spokesman Andrew Trull said.
Additional labor shortages for American-affiliated vendors including wheelchair and catering service providers have added to the staffing issues, Trull said.
American currently lists a job opening in the Charlotte airport for an airport customer experience coordinator.
Flight attendant staffing is not impacting American’s operations, Paul Hartshorn Jr., spokesman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said in a statement. The union represents 28,000 American Airlines flight attendants. All furloughed members of the union are back and flying, Hartshorn said in a statement.
More airport travelers
Airport passenger traffic took a deep dive in early 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic hit North Carolina, but travelers are returning to the airport in force.
Airport security checkpoints are now seeing 80% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers, TSA spokesman Mark Howell told the Observer earlier this month.
In April, the most recent month of passenger data available, 1.9 million people boarded planes at CLT, according to the airport. That’s a huge increase from April 2020, which saw just under 170,000 people board planes in CLT.
And this year’s April number is just below the airport’s total number of departing passengers for April 2019, which topped 2 million, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit North Carolina.
2:30 p.m. flight to New York LGA (AA2068)
6:10 p.m. flight to Dallas-Fort Worth DFW (AA1816)
6:13 p.m. flight to Miami MIA (AA2700)
8:29 p.m. flight to Windsor Locks BDL (AA657)
9:19 p.m. flight to Jacksonville JAX (AA863)
7:25 a.m. flight to Chicago ORD (AA1668)
9:20 a.m. flight to Denver DEN (AA1316)
11:10 a.m. flight to Boston BOS (AA2250)
4:25 p.m. flight to Dallas-Fort Worth DFW (AA888)
4:56 p.m. flight to Boston BOS (AA959)
10:22 p.m. flight to Minneapolis MSP (AA1186)