NEW YORK — Air travelers aren’t just facing sticker shock this Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff to the summer travel season. They also face a backlog of flight cancellations.
More than 1,400 flights have been canceled as of 5:45 p.m. EST Sunday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. This followed more than 1,500 cancellations on Saturday and 2,300 on Friday.
Delta Air Lines suffered the most, with more than 250 flights, or 9% of its operations, cut on Saturday. Cancellations continued on Sunday, with nearly 160 flights, or 6% of its operations, eliminated.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where Delta is based and has its largest hub, has been hit hard with delays and cancellations. On Saturday, 5% of flights there were canceled and 19% were delayed. On Sunday, 3% had been canceled and 4% delayed.
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Delta noted in an email to The Associated Press that Saturday’s cancellations were the result of poor weather and “air traffic control actions,” noting that it was trying to cancel flights at least 24 hours in advance this Memorial Day weekend.
Delta announced on its website Thursday that from July 1 to August 7, it will reduce service by about 100 daily departures, primarily in parts of the United States and Latin America that Delta frequently serves.
“More than ever in our history, the various factors currently affecting our operations – weather and air traffic control, supplier staffing, rising COVID case rates contributing to higher than expected unplanned absences in certain groups of work – result in an operation that doesn’t always live up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s director of customer experience, said in a post.
Meanwhile, at Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, dozens of flights have been canceled or delayed.
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Airlines and tourist destinations are anticipating monster crowds this summer as travel restrictions ease and pandemic fatigue overcomes lingering fear of contracting COVID-19 while traveling.
Many forecasters believe the number of travelers will match or even surpass pre-pandemic levels. But airlines have thousands fewer staff than in 2019, which has at times contributed to widespread flight cancellations.
People who are only now booking trips for the summer are getting sticker shock.
Domestic airline fares for the summer are averaging more than $400 for a round trip, 24% higher than at this time in 2019, before the pandemic, and 45% higher than there are. a year, according to travel data firm Hopper.
Contributor: David Koenig, writer for AP Airlines in Dallas, and Grace Hauck of USA TODAY in Chicago contributed to this report.
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