American Airlines reduces flight cancellations but staffing challenges continue to disrupt travel

An American Airlines plane lands at the Miami International Airport on June 16, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

American Airlines on Monday canceled more than 300 flights, or 10% of its schedule, as the company scrambled to stabilize its operations after reporting staffing shortages that led to travel disruptions for thousands of people over the weekend.

The Fort Worth-based airline had cancelled more than 2,000 mainline flights since Friday, blaming the issues on high winds on Thursday and a shortfall of crews. On Sunday alone, it cancelled more than 1,000 flights, or 30% of its operation, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware. That affected more than 136,000 customers, according to a company document, which was viewed by CNBC.

A lack of available crew was listed as the reason for most of the cancellations, tallies from American Airlines showed. The airline didn’t immediately comment.

It’s the latest major disruption to hit air travelers over the last few months as airlines struggle to cater to growing travel demand after urging thousands of workers to take buyouts or leaves of absence during the depths of the pandemic last year. Staffing shortages have made it more difficult for airlines to recover from routine issues like bad weather.

Southwest Airlines said flight cancellations earlier this month cost it $75 million and forced it to cut its remaining 2021 schedule for a second time so it can avoid further strains. Spirit Airlines had similar issues over the summer that cost it about $50 million, according to the company.