Why is American Airlines canceling flights? Weather, staff shortage responsible for over 1,500 flight cancellations; some at O’Hare

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CHICAGO – American Airlines canceled nearly 1,300 flights over the weekend, citing weather conditions and staff shortages as the impetus for the massive travel headache.

The Fort Worth-based airline canceled more than 1,000 flights Sunday at 11 p.m. CT, accounting for 36% of its schedule, according to the FlightAware tracking service. More than 400 of Sunday’s AA flights were also delayed.

There are already 190 AA flights canceled for Monday.

Two days of high winds at Dallas-Fort Worth, its largest hub, severely reduced its arrival capacity, the company said. Flights have also been assigned to its hub in Charlotte, North Carolina.

RELATED: American Airlines Cancels Hundreds of Flights, Cites Labor Shortages

“With additional weather conditions throughout the system, our staff is starting to run out as crew members find themselves outside of their regular flight sequences,” American said in a statement to CNN.

On Saturday evening, FlightAware, an aviation tracking program, showed that 543 flights, or 20% of the airline’s operations, had been canceled. Almost 435 additional flights, or 16% of its operations, were delayed.

On Friday, FlightAware showed that 738, or nearly a quarter, of American operations were delayed and 342 flight cancellations.

American said 4,967 flights were scheduled for Saturday.

“To make sure that we take care of our customers and ensure the certainty of the planning of our crews, we have adjusted our operations in recent days this month by proactively canceling some flights,” said American.

Thousands of passengers are currently traveling over Halloween weekend, with many tweeting their grievances to the company.

By comparison, Southwest, which has fewer flights per day, canceled 5% of its flights and delayed about 17% on Sunday.

At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, 40%, or 126, American Airlines flights were canceled Sunday, and 52 more were delayed, according to Flightaware.com. Another 34 were also canceled from O’Hare on Friday and 53 on Saturday.

As air travel plunged in early 2020, airlines offered buyouts and early retirement packages to employees to keep costs down. As they try to hire or rehire workers, downtime has become more frequent.

American expects more in-flight teams to return during the holiday season. The airline said 1,800 flight attendants would return on Monday and the rest would be back by December 1. The airline said it would also increase hiring in the fourth quarter.

As travel intensifies after all, but came to a standstill during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, other airlines have also struggled to resume normal operations. South West experienced an operational collapse over an October weekend, canceling more than 2,000 weekend flights.

The company blamed the move on air traffic control issues and limited staff in Florida as well as bad weather, saying it was “more difficult and prolonged to return to normal” due to schedule reductions and staff that it instituted during the pandemic.

ABC7 Chicago contributed to this report.

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