The last two years has been difficult for the air travel industry, as airlines have had to adapt to travel during a pandemic. But even as the COVID situation has improved, the challenges have hardly let up. Major airlines in the U.S. are now having to grapple with staffing shortages amid heightened travel demand. As a result, the more than 99 million passengers who have come to rely on Southwest Airlines might have trouble booking certain flights this summer. Read on to find out where this low-cost airline is cutting flights in June.
Southwest has cut a number of flights already this year.
Like many other carriers, Southwest Airlines has already canceled a number of flights in 2022. According to the Houston Chronicle, the airline dropped 65,000 flights from its spring schedule earlier this year. "[Southwest's] flight schedule is currently published through September 5, 2022, and as previously disclosed, the Company recently reduced its published flight schedules for March through May 2022 due to continuing challenges with available staffing," the airline said in a March regulatory filing.
But the carrier is now cutting more flights in June.
The cuts are far from over. Southwest Airlines just took an axe to thousands of its domestic flight routes planned for June 2022, The Business Journals reported on April 25. According to the news outlet, data from the aviation analytics company Cirium showed that the carrier originally had 119,039 domestic flights scheduled for that month. But Southwest is cutting 8,250 of those flights, trimming its entire June schedule by 6.9 percent.
Southwest's newly dropped flights will mainly affect a few major cities.
Travelers in Denver, Colorado, will be impacted the most by Southwest's latests cuts. According to Simple Flying, the carrier cut nearly 10 percent of its June flights for the Denver International Airport, dropping its domestic schedule for this city by 814 flights. The Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport is also getting a hefty cut, losing 717 flights, per Simple Flying.
And another major city being hit is Louisville, Kentucky. According to The Business Journals, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is down to 327 June departures from an original 353 scheduled flights.
Other airlines have started cutting summer flights as well.
Airlines usually finalize their schedules 90 days before departures, according to The Business Journals. And while many other airlines made cuts for June as well, none were as drastic as Southwest's. Delta cut its domestic schedule for the month of June by 517 flights, while American Airlines dropped just 83 flights for the same month. Cirium data showed that while United Airlines actually increased its June schedule by adding 319 domestic flights, it has already cut 3,785 flights for July.
Officials from Southwest told The Business Journals that the carrier has continuously adapted its flight schedule throughout the COVID pandemic based on its capacity. But the pilot shortage is still a large factor in these decisions as well. Peter Greenberg, a CBS News travel editor, said major airlines are having to make large-scale flight cancellations for the summer mainly because there are "not enough pilots, not enough cabin crew. And they literally cannot staff the schedule that they have."