Airlines cut thousands of fall flights after chaotic summer travel season

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Airline companies are cutting flights for the fall travel season as early as August in the aftermath of a tumultuous summer.

The decision comes after many airlines and airports were forced to deal with staff shortages during the summer, a trend that is spilling over into the fall.

After two years of travel restrictions and border closures, this summer was the season of adventure for most people, with some taking to the sky.

But staff shortages snarled airports worldwide with many gaps due to layoffs during the height of the pandemic and some caused by labor strikes.

Airline staff for Ryanair Holdings PLC in Spain went on strike to demand better wages and paid time off starting in June, which spurred a few flight cancellations in July. This was followed by strikes within Germany-based Deutsche Lufthansa AG, where a pilot union organized a strike for better pay on Sept. 2.

As a result, airports did not have enough staff to keep up with the busy traveling season. Passengers dealt with excessive delays, flight cancellations and lost luggage, with some travelers waiting months for their belongings to be returned.

“We had a separate charter just to repatriate bags back to customers that had been stranded because of some of the operational issues the European airports were having,” Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

From May to July, over 88,000 flights were canceled, and up to 220,000 containers of luggage were lost.

To avoid repetition, airlines including Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. decided to cut flights for the fall. According to CNN, American Airlines had cut nearly 31,000 flights for November after cutting 2% of flights during September and October.

United Airlines Holdings Inc. cut down the amount of flights arriving at Newark Liberty International airport, due to operational changes.

American Airlines cut 1,100 fall flights at a single airport last month.

The airline claimed this change was due to the current flight schedule being based on the pre-pandemic flight demand in 2019. For compensation, American Airlines also set travelers up with alternate flights and offered refunds.

While the reduction of flights will help airlines and airports cool down from the summer, this is not great news for people traveling for the holidays.

With Thanksgiving less than three months away and states removing COVID-19 restrictions, many Americans will use this opportunity to visit loved ones. But less flights may mean another year of staying at home for those who can’t find alternate traveling options.