Budget-friendly Spirit Airlines is looking to make a comeback after a myriad of factors forced the company to cancel hundreds of flights across the country over the course of the past week.
The issues started last Sunday, when the Florida-based carrier canceled about 20% of its flights. On Monday, Spirit scrapped more than 330 flights, or 42% of its schedule, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. By early Tuesday evening, Spirit had canceled more than 400 flights, or nearly 60% of its schedule.
Those numbers appear to be moving back down again. On Thursday, Spirit canceled 450 flights, or 56% of its schedule; by mid-Friday, the carrier had canceled approximately 43% of its scheduled flights.
A spokesperson for the airline told Spectrum News in an email that a near-perfect storm of complications had been brewing since July, when weather delays led to more and more crew members “getting dislocated and being unable to fly their assigned trips.”
Earlier this week, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that Spirit experienced an outage Tuesday morning affecting crew scheduling, preventing airline officials from rescheduling crews to cover gaps.
While cancelations and delays may persist through the weekend, the spokesperson told Spectrum News the company expects to resume “normal operations by the middle of next week.”
“It’s been a terrible week for us, for our guests. All the team members are working super hard to try to get us back where we want to be,” Spirit Airlines President & CEO Ted Christie told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Friday. “There will still be cancelations over the next few days, but we can start to build back to a full operation and then build from the takeaways that we get from this last week.”
According to ABC News, the company is offering double pay to flight attendants who pick up extra shifts.
The company is also offering accommodations, flight credits, refunds, hotel vouchers and meal vouchers to impacted guests, as “warranted by each Guest’s individual circumstance.”
The disruptions at Spirit are just the latest examples of airlines scrambling to deal with an increase in travel this summer.
Also this week, American Airlines struggled to recover from weekend storms at its Texas home, stranding thousands of passengers at the height of the summer travel season. On Tuesday, American canceled nearly 350 flights. It is much larger than Spirit, so those flights amounted to 11% of its schedule — still an unusually high rate.
About three-fourths of the American cancellations appeared to be due at least partly to a lack of pilots, according to a company log.
Those numbers were back down to normal by Thursday and Friday, when American Airlines respectively canceled 58 and 41 flights, each amounting to around 1% of its overall schedule.
Still, the union representing American’s pilots accused the airline’s management of poor planning and not having enough employees.
“It’s pretty simple. They don’t have enough pilots, and they don’t have modern scheduling practices to do more with what they have,” said union spokesman Dennis Tajer. He said that bad weather “hits every airline, but American is the last to recover. This has to change.”
American denied that it has a pilot shortage. Spokeswoman Whitney Zastrow said in a statement that Tuesday’s cancellations were largely related to Sunday’s storm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She said employees were working around the clock to take care of customers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.