Hundreds of flights canceled as Spirit and American Airlines face operational struggles

Aug 2, 2021

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Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed in the United States on Monday as a range of issues appeared to impact two major carriers, American Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

At American, about 13% of the carrier’s scheduled flights — 387 total — had been canceled as of 3 p.m. ET, while another 533, or 18%, were showing as delayed, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

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A whopping 35% of Spirit’s flights — 269 — had been canceled as of early Monday afternoon, while another 126, or 16% of the airline’s planned schedule, were delayed.

Weather appeared to be the main driver of American’s difficulties, despite issues with staffing flights earlier this summer. The Dallas-Fort Worth area — home to American’s headquarters and biggest hub — was buffeted by severe thunderstorms on Sunday, when powerful winds and hail moved through and caused numerous flights to divert or otherwise be delayed or canceled.

A spokesperson for the airline cited Sunday’s storms, as well as related air traffic control delays, several ramp closures at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW) on Sunday, and a ground stop at DFW on Monday as the airline worked to get back on track following the storms.

A source at American confirmed to TPG that the disruptions stemmed from weather events, and said that the airline was working to get back to normal following the disruptions.

The cause of Spirit’s operational disruption was less apparent.

A spokesperson for the airline cited “a series of operational challenges” pointing to a mixture of difficulties that have impacted the airline industry at large.

Reports that Spirit employees were striking or walking off the job were strongly refuted by the airline spokesperson, as well as representatives for airline unions including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). The AFA cited weather, “schedule month change over,” and IT problems as among the biggest causes of the delays.

“Management is proactively canceling flights today to recover the operation and prevent further disruption for passengers,” the AFA said in a statement.

More: What’s going on with all of those cancellations at American Airlines

As the delays continued to pile up, a Spirit spokesperson said in a statement that the airline was working to get back on track.

“We needed to make proactive cancelations to some flights across the network, but the majority of flights are still scheduled as planned. We understand how frustrating it is for our Guests when plans change unexpectedly, and we’re working to find solutions.”

Southwest Airlines, which also has a large presence in the Dallas area, had delays on 630, or 17% of its flights at 3 p.m. ET, but cancelations on just 44 of them.

Featured image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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