Even though the airline industry may finally be moving past the hardships it faced during the heights of the pandemic, things are still not going easy for many of the beleaguered companies. Staffing shortages and intense demand have turned busy travel weekends into horror stories of long delays and canceled flights stranding passengers at airports, while extreme weather complicates flight schedules even further. Still, many carriers are going out of their way to make the experience more enjoyable for passengers by beefing up service to popular destinations and bringing back familiar perks that have been on pause for the past two years. But now, Delta is cutting back flights from several major cities after adjusting schedules. Read on to see which markets will see fewer departures.
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Airlines have seen their first bit of good news in years with the recent surge in demand as travelers take to the skies again. In May, data showed bookings had surpassed even pre-pandemic levels for both leisure and business travelers, CNBC reported. But despite the boom in business, major airlines are still contending with operational headaches as they ramp operations back up—especially Delta.
In a memo sent on May 25 obtained by The Points Guy, Delta said that an ongoing staffing shortage was affecting its ability to recover from widespread travel interruptions caused by air traffic control delays and severe weather over a busy holiday travel weekend. Because of the mounting logistical snarls, the carrier said it planned to “relieve pressure by proactively thinning the schedule over Memorial Day and through the balance of June.”
But the next day, an official announcement from the airline stated that it would also be cutting around 100 daily flights from its schedule from July 1 through Aug. 7 to help the company get ahead of any logistical issues. “This will build additional resilience in our system and improve operational reliability for our customers and employees; we’ll continue to proactively adjust select flights in the coming weeks,” the company wrote in a press release, per The Points Guy. Now, a change to the airline’s released schedule is showing how the company is planning on paring back its service.
Delta is cutting flights between seven major cities in the coming weeks, according to its latest schedule posted to flight data website Cirium and confirmed by an airline spokesperson to The Points Guy. The changes will affect direct flights between larger markets, dropping service between Atlanta (ATL) and Colorado Springs (COS), Atlanta and Oakland (OAK), and Detroit (DTW) and Sacramento (SMF).
The new schedule also shows that the airline has scrapped planned service between Boston (BOS) and Memphis (MEM) initially slated to begin on Sept. 6. Originally, the route was set to launch in October 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Points Guy reports.
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Delta’s most recent schedule changes come as the airline continues to shuffle service between markets and reassess its priorities regarding competition with other carriers. According to The Points Guy, the planned Boston to Memphis direct flight no longer shows the same demand it did when it was first announced, especially after American Airlines began nonstop service between the cities on June 5.
“We are constantly evaluating our network strategy based on a myriad of factors related to market and operating conditions. As such, we can confirm that a recent adjustment made to our network plans will no longer include our upcoming Boston-Memphis service,” a Delta spokesperson told The Points Guy.
Last month, Delta also announced it would scrap plans to begin direct service between Boston and Toronto it had announced a year earlier. However, American also recently announced three daily direct flights between the cities, as well as facing other competition with daily flights from WestJet and Air Canada.
But Delta is still facing significant issues regarding being shorthanded on staff. On June 15, Delta MEC—a union subsidiary of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that represents the carrier’s 13,800 pilots—released an open letter that outlined the group’s concerns, Simple Flying reports.
“We have lost confidence in Delta Flight Operations, Crew Resources, and Flight Training and Standards; and we are concerned for the long-term health of Delta Air Lines. Delta’s operational reliability and outstanding reputation is suffering … As the economy continues to recover, we question the trajectory of our airline and are very concerned about the integrity and safety of our operation,” the letter warns.
The following day, another open letter from Delta MEC outlined how workers were being stretched thin at unprecedented levels. “We have been working on our days off, flying a record amount of overtime to help you get to your destination. At the current rate, by this fall, our pilots will have flown more overtime in 2022 than in the entirety of 2018 and 2019 combined, our busiest years to date.”
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