Americans heading to the airport to join their families on National Day on July 4 risked a nasty surprise on Saturday, after airlines had already canceled hundreds of flights due to staffing problems in particular.
By the afternoon, 600 flights had already been canceled, while nearly 3,100 more were postponed, according to flightaware.com.
The situation was already difficult the day before, according to the specialized site, which listed 587 canceled flights on Friday out of a total of 3,060 flights around the world, and about 8,000 delays.
These setbacks for American passengers form a key trend: US airlines, which employ 15% less staff than before the pandemic, are having a hard time managing the massive return of travelers to their planes.
Companies in the sector say they are working on the problem, ramping up recruitment campaigns for pilots and other categories of staff and reducing the number of seats available to passengers.
Airlines officials mention other aggravating external factors, notably climatic or due to Covid.
US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reminded passengers on Twitter Saturday that they are entitled to a refund in the event of a cancellation.
Delta Air Lines pilots also demonstrated Thursday to specifically demand a pay increase in relation to the number of overtime hours.
“It’s frankly irresponsible to overbook. At the end of the pandemic, we’re planning more flights than the number of people driving them,” one of their union representatives, Jason Ambrose, expressed on CNN on Saturday.
He stressed that tired pilots did not want to stop passengers, “but it is a safety issue.”
Massive passenger cancellations haven’t prevented airports from becoming overcrowded, however, and the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) estimated that the check count – nearly 2.5 million on Friday – was for the first time “returning to pre-pandemic size.”
An even more impressive number as 42 million Americans, a record, should be traveling by car during this weekend of festivities, according to the American Automobile Association.
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