Airlines Feeling Shaky On July 4th Weekend

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Airports and airlines are buckling under the pressure of demand pent up during the pandemic
Airports and airlines are buckling under the pressure of demand pent up during the pandemic

Cancelations and delays plague U.S.-based airlines on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. For many Americans, Independence Day falling on a Monday has meant an increased interest to travel. 

On Friday, airlines canceled around 464 flights out of 24,716 scheduled flights, or 2%. Meanwhile, delayed arrivals accounted for 6,657 of those flights, or 26.9% of flights on Friday. The average wait time for delayed flights was 51 minutes, according to FlightAware.

Around 5,932 flights experienced delays in the U.S. on Saturday, while cancelations accounted for 656 of the total flights. As of Sunday, the total number of delays reached 2,751 and cancelations totaled 281.

For July 4, airlines already canceled around 61 flights. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg stated that this weekend would be a test for airlines to see if they could handle the busy load of travelers over the summer. He also said that government action may be necessary to get airlines back on track.

"We are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering," Buttigieg said.

The weekend also brought mass strikes from pilots at multiple airlines across the country. Pilots complain about too much reliance on overtime by airlines in a more relaxed pandemic atmosphere. They also blame the airlines for mass delays and cancelations seen in recent weeks, which face difficulty hiring and keeping up with demand.

Delta pilots' strike included mostly off-duty pilots, so it is unclear if these strikes had any real impact on the cancelations and delays this holiday weekend.

For American Airlines, a computer glitch threatened to impact 12,000 flights over the weekend. However, the airline says that most of the flights are now operational and will not experience any adverse impacts because of the glitch.

Still, Axios noted that airlines' performance this weekend is better than it was during Memorial Day weekend. There were similar problems on Juneteenth and Father's Day weekend.

Travelers are also paying airfares 25% higher when compared to the same time last year.


US airlines are preparing customers for what will probably be another bumpy holiday weekend
US airlines are preparing customers for what will probably be another bumpy holiday weekend
Photo: AFP / KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI

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