American, Spirit cancel hundreds of flights for third consecutive day

American Airlines and Spirit Airlines have canceled more than 600 Tuesday flights, the third consecutive day of major travel trouble for the airlines’ passengers.

American, which is still struggling to recover from Sunday storms at its mammoth Dallas hub, canceled 288 Tuesday flights, or 9% percent of its schedule, according to flight tracker FlightAware. The airline canceled 563 Monday flights and nearly 300 Sunday flights. Flight delays have been sizable, too, with 414 American flights affected so far today.

Spirit has canceled 347 flights, a staggering 50% of its Tuesday flights. That’s on top of canceling 42% of its Monday flights due to weather and what it called a series of operational challenges.

The airline proactively canceled Tuesday flights “to reset our operations,” spokesman Field Sutton said in a statement.

“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,” the statement said.

Frustrated travelers are bombarding social media with tales of travel woes.

American spokesman Curtis Blessing said the airline’s continuing cancellations stem from the ripple effects of “prolonged and severe” weather that started late Sunday and temporarily halted some flights and closed two ramps at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, its home base and largest hub. The airline was forced to cancel and delay flights, and some flights were diverted.

The airline’s pilots union said the airline “can’t keep blaming it on the weather.”

“Weather hits and it hits everybody, and it’s how you recover that you are measured as a reliable operation,” said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, which is in contract negotiations with the airline. “American has had this problem every summer.”

Tajer said the majority of Tuesday’s flight cancellations are due to flight crew issues, which he blames on a pilot shortage and what he calls American’s strict scheduling system that doesn’t allow pilots to help the airline out in times of crisis for fear it will disrupt the airline’s operations in the future. (Pilots have limits on maximum hours worked.)

“We have pilots that are ready to fly, but their schedules are locked down,” he said.

“There’s a fire at their (American management’s) feet and they’re pouring gasoline on it instead of allowing us to help them with water.”

Blessing blamed the flight crew issues on the lengthy flight delays and diversions, which forced crews to time out. He said American worked throughout the day Monday to reposition its planes and its crews.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: American, Spirit airlines flights: More than 600 Tuesday flights canceled

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