American Airlines has canceled flights into July due to a combination of inclement weather and staffing shortages as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation and causing delays, canceled flights and disruptions to crew member schedules and our customers' plans," a spokesperson for the airline told Travel + Leisure in a statement on Monday. "That, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand, has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July."
Referred to as "targeted changes" planned to impact the least amount of customers, the number of canceled flights comes to 1%. The advance cancellations over the coming weeks have been made in an effort to avoid last-minute cancellations that disrupt travelers' plans.
The cancellations started this weekend as American canceled 120 flights Saturday and 176 on Sunday, about 6% of its operations for the weekend due to a lack of available crew. However, many of the flights were called off in advance and passengers were able to rebook well before heading to the airport.
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Over the past few weeks, extreme weather in Charlotte and Dallas Fort Worth airports caused delays and multi-hour ground stops. These delays not only impacted aircraft routing but crew routing which can impact schedules for weeks.
The airline also attributes cancellations to the quick increase in service offerings as travel demand suddenly increased over the past few weeks. Even with the cancellations, American intends to almost resume its pre-pandemic flight capacity this summer. The airline predicts its second-quarter capacity will be down 20% from 2019, CNBC reported.
"Our focus this summer - and always - is on delivering for our customers no matter the circumstance," the spokesperson told T+L. "We never want to disappoint, and feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport."
Customers whose flights are impacted by the cancellations have already been contacted by the airline to reschedule.