American Airlines will cut 1% of its schedule — equating to about two flights a day at Philadelphia International Airport — in early July, as the company says it’s trying to build a more resilient schedule after a spate of bad weather, flight cancellations, and disruptions to crew schedules.
The airline, which is Philadelphia’s main air carrier, said it’s also feeling the effects of “labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand,” according to a company statement.
Reducing the schedule by “a fraction” will allow the airline “to build in additional resilience and certainty” to its operations, the company said.
“We made targeted changes with the goal of impacting the fewest number of customers by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation,” the company said in a statement. The reductions are planned for July 2 to July 14.
American canceled approximately 300 flights over the weekend. That included 188 flights on Sunday, or 6% of the airline’s schedule that day, according to data tracked by the website FlightAware.
Philadelphia experienced relatively few cancellations by American on Sunday — 5, or 2% of American’s scheduled flights — compared with hubs in Charlotte, N.C., which had 33 cancellations, or 5% of the airline’s schedule there, and Dallas, which had 88 cancellations, or 8% of the schedule, according to FlightAware statistics.
Bad weather in such places as Charlotte and Dallas this month can affect the availability of flight crew members if they exceed eligible work time or need to be rerouted elsewhere, an American spokesperson said.
Airlines have been bouncing back from the low points of pandemic travel, as vaccination rates have increased and demand rose for leisure trips to outdoorsy destinations.
At PHL, total domestic air traffic in April — 1.325 million passengers — was up more than 10 times the amount of domestic passengers in April 2020.
American has said it expects its summer schedule at PHL to be down about 30% compared with pre-pandemic levels, with 289 average daily departures vs. 414 in summer 2019.
Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, the union that represents American’s pilots, said facing cancellations now is “a bit stunning to us.”
“American has a very old scheduling system and arcane rules that don’t allow pilots to come in and do the work,” he said.
Cancellations could have been avoided, he said, by “making our scheduling more flexible and adaptive” to match pilots with flights. “We could have come up with near-term solutions.”