Covid-19 has infected more than just people. The fallout from its wrath has caused society to incur intense supply chain bottlenecks, caused many laborers to question their life paths, and has fueled unprecedented increases in the costs of goods and services. The systemic infiltrations that have been permeating through every sector of society and commerce have now even affected air travel. According to ABC News, American Airlines was forced to cancel over 2,000 flights this past weekend.
The cancellations were initially sparked by logistical failures at the Dallas-Fort Worth American Airlines hub. The failures occurred when high winds forced crew members to be assigned to atypical positions and because of the shortages in labor the reassignments effectively left their usual duties unable to be fulfilled and thus resulted in a mass of cancellations.
Henry Harteveldt explained to ABC News just how interconnected all the airlines and airports are and how just one little hiccup can throw a wrench in that delicate balance. “The problem with most of the large airlines is if one hub sneezes, the other hubs catch colds,” said Harteveldt. The irony is that it’s like a logistical pandemic.
Harteveldt continued to detail that the American Airlines cancellations were exacerbated further because of timing. He said that not only were airports short on staff, but they were even shorter than usual because it was the end of the month and by that time much of the staff had reached their cap in workable hours. Essentially, persisting labor shortages have caused the remaining workers to have to work more hours which means by the time a month nears its end the existing skeleton crew has lost some of its bones.
The cancellations have continued to spill over into the new week with 300 additional flights suffering cancellations on Monday. Flight cancellations are not unique to American Airlines. Many other large airlines are being forced to call off a tremendous amount of flights, as well. In August Spirit stopped nearly 40% of their scheduled flights. And just three weeks prior, similar to American Airlines, Southwest had to cancel over 2,000 flights.
This new pattern of a tremendous amount of flights having to be canceled does not bode too well for the coming holiday season. Good Morning America warned that holiday travel could be “more chaotic than ever this year.” This ominous foreshadowing comes amidst American Airlines’, as well as others’ desperate attempts to beef up their crews. American Airlines is expecting 1,800 of their Flight Attendants to return to work this week and are hoping that that will serve to alleviate some of the effects of the shortages. Southwest has asserted that they are vying to employ over 5,000 employees in order to combat staffing issues.
American Airlines’ situation, as well as other major airlines, continues to be precarious. The biggest travel days of the year are yet to come but are fast approaching which leaves a limited window of opportunity to close some vital gaps. All of the big airlines are operating on ventilators right now and unless they can hire enough people to breathe new life into a system suffering the ravages of understaffing, they could expire under the weight of a cataclysmic logistical collapse this holiday with very little potential to recover.