Pilot shortage prompts rare flight cancellations at Delta over Thanksgiving break

Passengers were taken to Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 18, 2020 during a Kovid-19 epidemic at Delta Air Lines, Inc. Bags are checked for flights.

Patrick Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines canceled hundreds of flights during the Thanksgiving break as it struggled with a staff shortage during the busiest travel week since the coronovirus epidemic began.

While demand has fallen by less than half of last year as the epidemic Transport Security Administration airport screening reached more than 1 million on Sundays and Wednesdays, the highest in eight months.

On Thursday, Delta canceled about 300 flights, about 20% of its schedules and about 160 flights, or about 9% of Friday’s schedule.

“Several factors have pressured our ability to staff on time in several dozen scheduled flights,” Delta said in a statement. “We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused by these flight cancellations.”

The airline expects operations to be normal over the weekend and said that customers whose flights were canceled were booked into flights on the same day.

The operational problems, previously reported by View from the Wing blog, have come after hundreds of pilots took early retirement packages. And earlier this week the pilots approved a deal to avoid partial pay to avoid more than 1,700 furloughs by 2022.

Pilot rank reductions can cause cascading problems because pilots need to be trained and maintain posture on some aircraft and cannot easily move from one to the other.

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