Storms, Staffing Cancel Flights

With fewer pilots, Delta struggles with logistics
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2020 5:11 PM CST
Pilot Cuts, Snow Bring Cancellations
Mail carrier Dennis Niles braves the blowing snow in Minnesota as blizzard-like conditions hit Osseo and the Twins Cites on Wednesday.   (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP)

Logistical complications brought on by the pandemic, piled on top of a snowstorm, led Delta Air Lines to cancel hundereds of flights for Wednesday and Thursday. Anticipating the snowfall at its Minneapolis hub, the airline scrapped 250 flights early, the Washington Post reports. Staffing problems brought the cancellation of another 100 flights scheduled for Friday. "Due to the downsizing of the airline and trying to manage the size of the workforce … there’s been some training issues that’s been created from moving pilots from airplane to airplane and getting them retrained," said a spokesman for Delta pilots. "It's basically a problem of trying to get the pilots to the right place at the right time.”

Buyouts, early retirements and voluntary leaves have reduced the number of pilots Delta can call on. "That’s fine in normal times, but when you combine the increased travel demand for Christmas with pilots taking time off for the holiday, cracks start to show," said the editor of Thrifty Traveler, a website. Passengers whose flights were canceled said nobody told them why, exactly. "What we’ve been told is it was flight operations, that’s the only information that anybody has provided to us," one said. Delta canceled more than 500 flights during Thanksgiving week, per the Post. (Read more Delta Air Lines stories.)

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