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American Airlines Suffers Blood-Curdling Halloween Weekend With Over 1,000 Cancellations On Staffing Woes

American Airlines Suffers Blood-Curdling Halloween Weekend With Over 1,000 Cancellations On Staffing Woes

American Airlines is facing a spine-tingling Halloween weekend after the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier was forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights over Saturday and Sunday. The airline blamed bad weather and tight staffing for the travel misery that has also resulted in hundreds of flight delays.

The meltdown comes just weeks after Southwest Airlines suffered its own flight cancellation fiasco with the root cause also blamed on bad weather. Southwest cancelled more than 2,000 flights over a six-day period, costing the carrier $75 million in direct costs, refunds and goodwill gestures.

According to the flight-tracking website Flight Aware, American Airlines cancelled 540 flights on Saturday and has already proactively cancelled a further 497 flights that were due to operate on Sunday. Thousands of passengers also faced disruption on 400 delayed services on Saturday.

In an internal memo, American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker told staffers on Saturday that the last few days of October would prove “challenging” and blamed “severe winds” around its hub at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) for the airline’s woes.

Parker said crosswinds of up to 50 mph on Thursday had “sharply reduced arrival capacity by more than half”.

“This weather drove a large number of cancellations at DFW, as we could only use two runways instead of the usual five that handle our operation”.

“With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences,” the memo continued. Parker told staffers that most customers had been rebooked on a new flight departing the same day.

On November 1, the airline expects to welcome back 1,800 flight attendants from long-term pandemic leave, while the first batch of new hire flight attendants will also be joining the operation.

By the end of December, American expects to have 600 new flight attendants online, while airport teams will be bolstered by around 4,000 new recruits in the coming months.

Southwest also says it is “aggressively” hiring additional staff to keep up with the return in travel demand and hopes to have hired 5,000 new employees by year-end. The airline has been forced to cut back its planned capacity on “more conservative staffing assumptions”.

United Airlines has criticized rivals that have stretched capacity because it leaves little wiggle room in times of disruption.

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