- Spirit Airlines and American Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights for Monday.
- Bad weather and a reported lack of flight crews are to blame for yet another summer travel hiccup.
- Airlines have an impaired ability to recover due to staffing cuts from the pandemic.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The summer of vaccinated travel strikes again.
Spirit Airlines and American Airlines have canceled 729 flights and counting as of Monday afternoon as bad weather and “operational challenges” plague cities across the American South.
According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, a total of 275 Spirit flights have been canceled at the time of writing. It’s around 35% of the airline’s scheduled flights for Monday.
“We are experiencing operational challenges in some areas of our network,” Spirit wrote in a tweet. “Before going to the airport, check your email and current flight status”
An additional 159 – or 20% of Spirit’s Monday flying – have been marked as delayed, according to FlightAware.
Spirit’s main bases in Texas and Florida are the leading cause of the airline’s issues. Bad weather, including thunderstorms, has been pounding Florida and parts of Texas.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is leading the world in flight cancellations and delays, according to FlightAware, with 138 cancellations and 240 delayed flights affecting a total of 35% of the airport’s Monday flights.
Fort Lauderdale International Airport is further down on the list but still reporting 39 cancellations and 85 delays for departures. Orlando International Airport, another Spirit base, is reporting 37 cancellations and 129 delays for departures.
Spirit is asking inconvenienced passengers to use the live chat function on its website to get help with bookings.
“We’re working around the clock to get back on track in the wake of some travel disruptions over the weekend due to a series of weather and operational challenges,” a Spirit spokesperson told Insider. “We needed to make proactive cancellations to some flights across the network, but the majority of flights are still scheduled as planned.”
Spirit had been making strides in becoming a more punctual airline before the pandemic but its performance has suffered in recent months. For April, Spirit ranked 10th in a Department of Transportation ranking of US airlines. In May, it rose to 7th place.
American Airlines, which shares numerous bases with Spirit, has also canceled 454 flights that constitute just 15% of its Monday schedule. An additional 674 flights, or 22% of its schedule, were delayed.
American’s Southernmost hub at Miami International Airport is currently at 10 canceled flights and 118 delayed flights. South Florida is a gateway to South America and the Caribbean for both Spirit and American.
A list reviewed by CNBC showed that American canceled at least 30 flights due to a lack of flight crews.
Spirit was projected by analysts as among the first that should recover from the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to its focus on leisure travel. Its aircraft were among the first to be pulled from temporary storage facilities in the American Southwest.
But staffing shortages have been plaguing airlines since air travel began rebounding late last year. Airlines hastily parted with planes and pilots to slow the bleeding incurred by the pandemic and some are feeling the effects of “over-scheduling” this summer.
American Airlines kicked off what would be a busy summer travel season with hundreds of flight cancellations in June. Southwest Airlines had a similar incident and later admitted it too had underlying operational issues.
“While the rapid ramp up in June travel demand provided stability to our financial position, it has impacted our operations following a prolonged period of depressed demand due to the pandemic,” Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ chief executive officer, said in a second-quarter earnings statement. “Therefore, we are intensely focused on improving our operations as we restore our network to meet demand.”
United Airlines says that it has avoided such issues by working out an agreement with its pilot union to keep pilots trained and ready to fly.
American did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.