If you’re wondering if the current chaos in the skies will dissipate, come fall, it’s already possible to read the tea leaves or coffee grinds: Airlines are cancelling tens of thousands of flights and major foreign airports are continuing their caps on passenger numbers into at least November.
While it appears that the boom in travel took airlines and airports by surprise, it was widely predicted in the preceding months and some of the disruptions will have long-term effects that will continue into 2023.
One airline, American, the world’s largest carrier, culled almost 31,000 flights in November alone based on data provided by Cirium, which tracks such information.
The airline said in a statement that the adjustments “are in line with our approach to our network and schedule planning throughout the year”
The carrier noted it publishes preliminary schedules 331 days in advance and that adjustments are made “approximately 100 days in advance [of the time period].” It also said that it will operate the “largest network of any U.S. airline this fall, with nearly 5,400 daily departures.”
Other U.S. airlines are following suit, albeit to a lesser extent. Number 2 carrier Delta Air Lines will reduce its flying in November by just 4,500 flights, while United Airlines, the nation’s third largest carrier, plans to cull 15,000.
Meanwhile, some of the largest international hubs including London Heathrow, Frankfurt Airport, and Amsterdam Schiphol will extend their capacity limits until at least October as they attempt to recruit additional staff.
Almost 25% of flights in the first week of August departing London Heathrow were delayed, according to data from FlightAware.com, which tracks such information. This is down from 54% in the week ending June 26 and is widely viewed as an improvement, which means that the caps are working.
Similar improvements have been recorded at other major airports including Flughafen Munich, Flughafen Frankfurt, and Amsterdam Schiphol.
Meanwhile, passengers have faced long lines at security, a plague of lost bags of biblical proportions, and a situation in which delays and cancellations became the norm. As airlines try to recruit more staff and retool their operations, they have to comply with the extended caps, which will greatly diminish their typically busy schedule in the fall.
Finally, keep in mind that airlines are also paying passengers significant amounts of compensation and facing higher operational charges from airports as well and that one airline, British Airways, had to stop selling tickets for departures in the first week of August in order to help with the backlog of passengers at Heathrow.
KLM Royal Dutch Airways, for its part, said it would limit ticket sales for departures from Schiphol for both September and October although it doesn’t’ expect to cancel any additional flights.
(Photo: Accura Media Group)