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Why all the flight cancellations? Airlines are still in recovery mode

Kristin Schwab Dec 23, 2022
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Another wave of flight cancellations and delays for the holidays has travelers on edge. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Why all the flight cancellations? Airlines are still in recovery mode

Kristin Schwab Dec 23, 2022
Heard on:
Another wave of flight cancellations and delays for the holidays has travelers on edge. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
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For the anxious traveler trying to get from point A to point B, flight delays and cancellations can be a bit confusing.

“You might say, ‘Well, it’s sunny here. Why can I not get a plane?'” said Helane Becker, an airline analyst at Cowen. She added that maybe the weather’s bad at your destination, or somewhere along the flight path. Or, at wherever the plane you’re getting on is coming from. This wasn’t as big of a problem before COVID. But, “right now flights are full.”

Becker says airline capacity is down 20%, and it’ll take a few years for it to get back to normal.

“We still have more planes than we have pilots to fly them,” said Robert Mann, an airline analyst at R.W. Mann and Company.

That’s because a lot of pilots recently reached the mandatory retirement age and many airlines have changed aircrafts, which requires lots of retraining. Regional carriers are particularly strained.

“They’re probably short of pilots by 20 or more percent,” Mann said.

It’s why airlines are now more likely to incentivize travelers to rebook their tickets without penalties.

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