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Delta Air Lines capped off an already turbulent week with around 100 flight cancellations over the weekend due to a shortage of pilots.
“Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status,” Delta told Insider.
The airline has been struggling to cope with periods of increased passenger numbers, particularly those around holidays. The busiest travel seasons of 2020 amid the pandemic surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas saw Delta cancel flights in the hundreds due to similar staffing issues. Christmas saw over 300 cancellations while Thanksgiving saw 615.
Easter weekend saw a record number of passengers take to the skies during the pandemic. A total of 1,580,785 travelers departed from US airports on April 2, according to the Transportation Security Administration, and the days following saw more than 1.3 million travelers each.
Pilots are grounded for 48 hours after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine per Federal Aviation Administration rules, as Insider reported in December, as the side effects can impact a pilot’s ability to safely operate an aircraft. Delta also houses a vaccination mega-site in Atlanta at the Delta Flight Museum.
Some travelers that booked with Delta to take advantage of its policy of blocking middle seats, the major differentiator between Delta and its rivals in 2021, also found themselves with a seat neighbor. Delta was forced to book middle seats, a policy scheduled to take effect in May, on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate travelers on canceled flights.
Increased travel is now a reality as more Americans are eager to take to the skies amid the accelerated vaccine rollouts and pockets full with the latest round of stimulus checks.
Read more: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population — and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe
The cancellations also come as Atlanta-based Delta is under fire for its response to Georgia’s new voter rights law and calls for boycotts. CEO Ed Bastian initially came out in support of the bill but later denounced its contents, which critics have called voter suppression.
Delta employees were also heavily affected by Bastian’s initial comments, industry analyst Henry Harteveldt told Insider in a recent interview, potentially demoralizing the workforce during its busiest weekend in over a year in terms of passenger numbers.
Delta will have a slight reprieve until the next holiday travel weekend surrounding …read more
Source:: Business Insider