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Hundreds more American Airlines flights canceled on day three of chaos

Date: August 3, 2021

By Kyle Arnold, Dallas Morning News

One in 11 American Airlines flights have been canceled Tuesday as the carrier continues to recuperate two days after Sunday’s thunderstorms in North Texas.

More than 270 American Airlines flights were canceled Tuesday, about 9% of the company’s schedule, according to flight-tracking website Flightaware.com.

It has left thousands of passengers nationwide stranded — some since Sunday — waiting for flights out of tense airports.

After weather clobbered travel at DFW International Airport Sunday and the airline tried to put the pieces back together Monday, more than three-quarters of American’s flight cancellations Tuesday came from problems with crew availability, according to an internal company document viewed by The Dallas Morning News.

DFW International Airport, the carrier’s biggest hub, is still a chokepoint for flights. According to FlightAware.com, DFW had 135 cancellations for incoming and outgoing flights, about half of all American’s nixed flights.

The weather problems Sunday came on the busiest travel day since March 2020, with 2.24 million passengers going through TSA checkpoints at U.S. airports, according to the security agency.

On Monday, the FAA was holding flights out of airports around the country as American struggled at DFW.

Spirit Airlines has also faced a steep number of cancellations since Monday, canceling about 40% of its flights on Tuesday after dealing with its own weather problems in recent days.

Crew staffing problems have been responsible for some American’s toughest stretches this summer, particularly storms in May that affected travel for days.

Pilots and flight attendants have limits for how many hours they can work, even if that work is sitting on a runway waiting for the weather to clear or to get clearance for takeoff.

When those crew members hit maximum hour limits, they often need to be replaced by other crew members. The more cancellations and delays there are across the system, the harder it is for carriers to backfill pilots and flight attendants.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines had a similar problem in June when a technology problem sidelined flights for much of one evening and then another problem affected flights the next day. It took more than a week for Southwest to unravel the problems it had with flight attendant and pilot staffing.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s pilots, has criticized American Airlines for not being prepared and ramping up the number of flights too fast. American made a flight schedule 20% bigger than its closest competitor for this summer, hoping to recapture the customers lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But American is still bringing pilots back from furloughs that were canceled in December as they work their way through the required training.

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