American Airlines cancels nearly 850 flights on Sunday

By Nicholas P. Brown

Oct. 31 (Reuters) – American Airlines on Sunday canceled nearly 850 domestic and international flights, citing staff shortages and adverse weather conditions, bringing the total number of cancellations to 1,739 and counting since Friday.

A spokeswoman for American, the world’s largest airline, said the company had canceled 848 flights as of 3:00 p.m. EST (7:00 p.m. GMT) Sunday, more than 16% of its total. This follows 548 trips canceled by American on Saturday and 343 on Friday. Sunday’s figure could change as the day goes on.

In a letter to employees on Saturday, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company said high winds at the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport cut inbound capacity by more than half. The additional inclement weather means that “our staff is starting to run out as crew members find themselves outside of their regular flight sequences,” the letter said.

Airlines have cut back on staff due to the coronavirus pandemic which has drastically reduced demand for air travel. As normal life resumes, many resume their course.

In Saturday’s letter, American said nearly 1,800 flight attendants were returning from leave as of Monday, while more than 600 newly hired flight attendants would arrive on board by the end of the year.

The airline had offered voluntary leave to some employees to help weather the pandemic. It also fired 17,500 employees, although those people are now back to work, a company spokeswoman told Reuters on Sunday.

Southwest Airlines Co has also said it is aggressively hiring, aiming to add 5,000 new workers by the end of 2021.

Earlier this month, Southwest canceled nearly 2,400 flights over a three-day period, blaming bad weather and air traffic problems in Florida. (Reporting by Nicholas P. Brown in New York; additional reporting by Maria Ponnerhath in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; editing by Bill Berkrot)

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