AS the Fourth of July weekend approaches, travel mayhem is underway with thousands of flights canceled this week and Delta pilots protesting work conditions.
Approximately 3,000 flights were canceled this week, with American and Delta nixing the most plane trips, according to NBC News.
The canceled flights come as an email warning from Delta advised of “operational issues” and urged flyers to rebook their trips with “no fare difference or change fees.”
On Thursday, Delta pilots and flight attendants were photographed taking part in an informational picket at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.
A Delta Airlines pilot, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke with WSB-TV about why so many flights are getting canceled.
He told the news outlet: “Obviously there is an airline pilot shortage across the board for most domestic airlines.”
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“They’re being caused by staffing issues. They go far beyond pilots just getting sick,” the pilot continued.
“We’re not the only ones canceling these flights, but what we do feel and I as a pilot and a lot of my colleagues feel is that Delta has kind of backed themselves into this position.”
In a statement to WSB-TV’s Channel 2 News, Delta said: “Delta teams continue to safely manage through compounding factors affecting our operation, including higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some of our work groups.
“Canceling a flight is always our last resort, and we sincerely apologize to our customers.”
Meanwhile, the International Air Line Pilots Association said Delta Airline pilots will conduct “informational picketing” across the US on Thursday to “protest protracted contract negotiations” a press release revealed.
“The pilots last signed a new employment contract in 2016 and are currently flying under work rules and pay rates negotiated over six years ago,” the release stated.
According to the association, hundreds of off-duty pilots are set to picket on Thursday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA), and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).
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Capt. Jason Ambrosi, chair of the Delta ALPA Master Executive Council, said in a statement: “We’re now going into the Independence Day Holiday weekend and are concerned that our customers’ plans have already been disrupted once again.
“The perfect storm is occurring. Demand is back, and pilots are flying record amounts of overtime but we are still seeing management canceling, leaving our customers stranded and their holiday plans ruined. Unfortunately, this mismanagement continues.
“And it extends to a complete lack of urgency to resolve our issues at the negotiating table.”
Meanwhile, John Lucia with the FAA Traffic Command Center said the forecast for Friday, July 1, will be “relatively bad.”
He said the weather will be bad “in the southeast area from Atlanta, to Florida down to Texas, also up in the northeast.”
“So if you’re trying to fly out of the northeast, or into the northeast, tomorrow afternoon – you will probably encounter delays,” he added.
Since the Memorial Day holiday weekend in May, US airlines have canceled more than 21,000 flights, according to FlightAware.
In order to assist overwhelmed airports, the FAA has created alternate routes, added more controllers in busy areas, and increased data sharing, Reuters reports.
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The FAA said in a statement: “People expect when they buy an airline ticket that they’ll get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably.
“After receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help save the airlines from mass layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to have their expectations met.”