Spirit Airlines and American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights on Tuesday after several days of disruptions, frustrating passengers across the country.
By midafternoon, Spirit had scrapped more than half its scheduled flights for the day, according to FlightAware, an aviation data firm. The airline canceled more than 40 percent of its flights on Monday and 19 percent on Sunday. Spirit attributed those disruptions to “a series of weather and operational challenges.”
American had canceled about 300 flights by the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday, about a tenth of Tuesday’s scheduled trips. The airline canceled about 18 percent of its flights on Monday and 9 percent the day before. American pinned the blame on a weekend storm that hit Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, its large hub airport.
“A prolonged severe weather event in Dallas Fort Worth on Sunday night into Monday morning brought sustained heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, microbursts and hail to our largest hub,” Curtis Blessing, a spokesman, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The nine-hour weather event resulted in flight delays, cancellations and nearly 100 diversions. Our team members are working around the clock to care for our customers.”
Before the spate of disruptions, it had been a relatively good stretch for the two airlines. Only about 2 percent of American’s flights and about 1 percent of Spirit’s flights were canceled last month, according to FlightAware. Both airlines had more cancellations as a share of overall flights in July 2019, according to Transportation Department data.
Most major airlines this summer have suffered widespread delays of at least 15 minutes, however. On a few occasions, bad weather has combined with pandemic-related staffing shortages to cause extended disruptions.
American said that some employees hit the maximum hours they could work in one stretch because of the weather delays this week. The airline said it expected its operations to improve starting Tuesday.
The industry has experienced a relatively strong summer rebound as people emboldened by widespread vaccinations resumed traveling again. More than 2.2 million people were screened at federal airport security checkpoints on Sunday, the most since early March 2020, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Still, air travel remains about 20 percent below 2019 levels.
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