Airline travelers this Fourth of July weekend may again encounter a national holiday filled with delays and cancellations as air carriers continue to struggle with staffing and other issues that keep planes and customers at the gate.
If the month of June is any indication, this coming weekend, which traditionally sees a spike in the number of travelers, could feel like anything but freedom. Airline industry officials assert delays and cancellations were the rule rather than the exception during the first three weeks of the month. On father’s day weekend, between Thursday, June 16 and Sunday, June 19, more than 5,000 U.S. flights were cancelled.
Here are some issues fliers may have to navigate this weekend.
Staffing vs. demand for flights
Operational issues are continuing industrywide, with unionized workers pressing the theme that airline managements simultaneously failed to restore air crew rosters to pre-COVID-19 levels even as they ramped up schedules to meet a surge in consumer demand.
But Airlines for America, the industry trade group representing most U.S. carriers in Washington, wrote U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week saying the airlines “have aggressively implemented several initiatives to drive better operational reliability.”
According to the organization’s president, Nicholas Calio, the measures include:
—Cut 15% of June through August flights “relative to what they had planned for at the outset of 2022.″
—”Accelerated robust hiring and training programs” for flight crew, customer service agents and airport staff. The carriers are also increasing pay for many positions.
—”Given more flexibility for itinerary changes and increased IT investments in airline apps to increase communication with travelers and to allow passengers to rebook without queuing.”