Spirit cancels half its flights; American also struggling
Spirit Airlines canceled nearly half its schedule for Tuesday, the third straight day of extremely high cancellation numbers at the budget airline.
By early afternoon, the low-cost carrier had canceled about 320 flights, or 47% of its schedule, according to the FlightAware tracking service. Dozens more flights were late. The blame appeared to lie at least partly with a technology outage affecting crew scheduling.
American Airlines had canceled nearly 300 flights by early afternoon Tuesday, but it is much larger than Spirit, and those flights amounted to a less-alarming 9% of its schedule.
About three-fourths of the American cancellations appeared to be due at least partly to a lack of pilots, according to a company log.
The disruptions at Spirit and American are just the latest examples of airlines scrambling to deal with an increase in travel this summer. Airlines have thousands fewer employees than they did before the pandemic, but U.S. air travel has recovered to about 80% of 2019 levels.
A Spirit spokesman said the airline was proactively canceling some flights — dropping them before most passengers drive to the airport — to “reset” the operation.
“We’re working around the clock to mitigate the travel disruptions caused by overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages and staffing shortages in some areas of the operation,” spokesman Erik Hofmeyer said. “We’re working to provide refunds for cancellations and, when possible, to re-accommodate our guests” on other flights.
A person familiar with the situation said Spirit experienced an outage Tuesday morning affecting crew scheduling, preventing airline officials from rescheduling crews to cover gaps. The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said crews were stranded in many places...