American flight cancellations raise holiday travel fears

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — American Airlines canceled 315 flights by 10 a.m. Monday, or 11% of its scheduled flights for the day, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

This is the highest number of cancellations reported for a U.S.-based airline for the day.

A spokeswoman for American addressed the high number of cancellations, saying the airline expects considerable improvement starting today, although there will be “some residual impact from the weekend.”

The Texas-based carrier had canceled hundreds of flights over Halloween weekend, pointing to weather disruptions in Texas and tight staffing.

By late afternoon Sunday, American had canceled more than 900 flights — one-third of its schedule for the day — after scrapping nearly 900 flights over the previous two days, according to FlightAware.

American’s troubles began Thursday and Friday, when high winds at times shut down its busiest hub, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and prevented the airline from using all runways there.

That made it difficult for American to get crews in position for upcoming flights, and caused disruptions. The number of canceled and delayed flights grew larger in number and geographic sweep throughout the weekend.

“To make sure we are taking care of our customers and providing scheduling certainty for our crews, we have adjusted our operation for the last few days this month by proactively canceling some flights,” David Seymour, the airline’s chief operating officer, said in a note to employees on Saturday.

About two-thirds of Sunday’s cancellations were due to a lack of flight attendants in the right places, with almost all the remaining cancellations due to a shortage of pilots, according to The Associated Press.

The nature of the debacle — starting with bad weather in part of the country before spinning out of control — was similar to disruptions at Southwest Airlines in early October. Together, the twin failures raised ominous questions about whether major airlines are prepared for the busy upcoming holiday travel period.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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