Boeing Max grounding, severe weather leads to tough summer for airline travelers

It’s a bad summer to be an airline traveler.

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The time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is always difficult for both carriers and the flying public.

Traffic is at its highest levels for the year, meaning American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others are forced to use their aircraft for more hours each day and have fewer available planes to mitigate potential interruptions.

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But between the grounding of Boeing’s Max jet, severe weather, union disputes and other issues, carriers are facing historic levels of delays and higher numbers of canceled flights.

And it’s ultimately the consumer who suffers.

“They are essentially using the resources that they have far more intensely, which means if they have an irregular operation they have essentially very few empty seats on which to place disrupted customers,” said Robert Mann, an airline consultant and former industry executive.

American canceled 3.5 percent of its overall schedule in June, roughly 7,500 domestic and international flights, according to data from Global Eagle, easily the highest among the largest four U.S. carriers. United canceled 2.1 percent, while Delta and Southwest both canceled under 1 percent.

Delays are also on the rise. At United Airlines, severe weather and air traffic control issues led to the largest amount of delays the Chicago-based carrier has seen, a spokesman confirmed to FOX Business.

Those statistics were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Alongside weather and the Max grounding, American has also faced greater delays than competitors due to an ongoing dispute with labor unions.

The carrier is suing several groups, including the AFL-CIO, alleging that they organized a work slowdown to exact more concessions during contract negotiations.

As a result, the average unscheduled aircraft is “significantly elevated” from prior years, American wrote in a June filing, reaching an average of 54.5 planes, higher than the prior average of 42.2 jets in the last two summers.

“The mandate to return to normal operations is particularly acute now, in the midst of the summer season,” the filing reads.


    The company on Wednesday estimated that unit revenue would rise higher than expected in the second quarter as a result of the Max grounding.