Delta Air Lines today announced its intentions to cut roughly 100 daily flights from its Summer 2022 schedule, aiming to “minimize disruptions and bounce back faster when challenges occur”.
The airline ascribed the decision to the challenges of “rebuilding Delta’s full-scale operation” as pandemic-related curbs disappear and the commercial aviation industry attempts to answer a steep increase in air travel demand.
According to CNBC, the paring down of Delta’s daily schedule will primarily affect U.S. and Latin American markets between July 1 and August 7 and represent about two percent of the carrier’s scheduled departures. The airline stated that it will continue to make adjustments to its schedule over the coming weeks.
“More than any time in our history, the various factors currently impacting our operation—weather and air traffic control, vendor staffing, increased Covid case rates contributing to higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work group[s]—are resulting in an operation that isn’t consistently up to the standards Delta has set for the industry in recent years,” said Allison Ausband, chief customer experience officer.
Delta isn’t the first carrier to announce that it will be scaling back capacity for the summer because of operational difficulties. Last month, JetBlue announced that it would prune somewhere between eight and 10 percent of its summer schedule, citing “continued industry challenges’; and Alaska Airlines has also trimmed its schedule by roughly two percent through June because “pilot capacity” currently falls short.
Fewer available seats on the remaining flights undoubtedly mean that airlines will raise fare prices further, even though the costs of flying are already way up from what they were last year.
Delta has also asked its pilots to pick up open shifts for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, which is expected to be extremely busy for travel. The airline is forecasting that it will fly 2.5 million people (that’s a 25 percent increase over last year) for the holiday weekend that’s considered the unofficial start of the summer season.
According to CNN, AAA is anticipating that a total of 39.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the long weekend.
Also today, Delta issued a travel waiver for Southeastern and Northeastern U.S. regions expected to be impacted by inclement weather over the Memorial Day travel period. It announced that fare differences will be waived for affected customers who travel on rebooked flights by May 31.