Airlines reduce cancellations, but US flight problems persist

Air travel in the United States improved on Monday after a turbulent weekend that left thousands of travelers stranded by thunderstorms in Florida, technology problems at the busiest national airline and labor problems. work with another carrier.

However, airlines that fly a large portion of their flights to Florida were still struggling on Monday, especially Spirit Airlines.

And airlines were bracing for another round of storms set to hit the Dallas area — home to American and Southwest — Monday night.

Airlines cut about 650 US flights Monday mid-afternoon, according to tracking service This followed the cancellation of more than 3,500 flights – around one in 13 – over the weekend.

The thunderstorms led the Federal Aviation Administration to limit flights over much of Florida and briefly halt flights at several airports in the state on Saturday. This caused ripple effects across the country for the rest of the weekend, and some travelers said they had to wait before they could be put on another flight.

“It’s spring break season, so unfortunately, there’s no worse place to have bad weather than Florida right now,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst for AtmosphereResearch. “Airlines are scrambling to get people where they want to go, they’re working to get planes to and from Florida. It will take a few days. »

On Monday, Spirit, which is based in Miramar, Fla., canceled about 250 flights, or 30% of its schedule. JetBlue Airways, which flies frequently between Florida and the Northeast, canceled about 140 flights, or 13% of its total for the day.

Spirit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Southwest Airlines, which operates more domestic flights than any airline, was doing much better on Monday — about 60 cancellations, 1% of its schedule, after cutting more than 900 flights, or about 13% of its total, on Saturday and Sunday. The airline also suffered what it called intermittent technology issues over the weekend.

Southwest’s unusual point-to-point route map means that many of its planes stop in Florida at some point during a normal day. In contrast, American, Delta and United operate so-called hub-and-spoke networks in which flights depart from a few key airports. This keeps planes in one part of the country sheltered from the weather in other places.

Alaska Airlines, the fifth-largest US carrier, canceled about 40 flights or 5% of its schedule on Monday. Over the weekend, the airline appeared to blame the pilots’ union. Pilots on leave have picketed airports and an investor conference hosted by the Seattle-based airline to protest slow contract negotiations over the past three years.

Lynn A. Saleh