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The perfect storm: The last 2 weeks have been rough for the airline industry

时间:2022-05-13 03:27来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

The perfect storm: The last 2 weeks have been rough for the airline industry


COVID-related sickouts, coupled with bad weather, are creating a nightmare scenario2 for some airlines and passengers.


Airlines have canceled more than a thousand flights again today, even though a widespread snowstorm that paralyzed travel in parts of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. has moved on. NPR's David Schaper explains why airlines are struggling right now to get through yet another turbulent period.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE3: Back before Christmas, even before heavy snow began to fall in some parts of the country, Kathleen Bangs of the flight-tracking firm FlightAware says airlines began to realize they had a mounting problem.

KATHLEEN BANGS: The first domino began with a statement released from United Airlines saying, we think we're going to have to cancel at least a hundred flights, in part due to employees being sick, mainly flight crew staffing that are testing positive for the omicron variant4.

SCHAPER: Soon, other airlines put out similar statements. And on the day before Christmas, with few weather problems across the country, airlines canceled nearly 700 flights. Every day since, the number of delays and cancellations has grown, according to FlightAware. And then nasty winter weather further mucked up operations. The worst of it was New Year's weekend. From Saturday through Monday, more than 12% of all scheduled flights within, from or to the U.S. were canceled.

U.S. airlines have now scrapped5 more than 20,000 flights just since Christmas Eve. Tens of thousands more have been significantly delayed. Kathleen Bangs says delays and cancellations this time of year are not unusual.

BANGS: But we usually don't see a period going this long with over a thousand cancellations a day and thousands and thousands of delays.

CHARLIE LEOCHA: Everything is as bad as it could be right now.

SCHAPER: Charlie Leocha heads the consumer group Travelers United.

LEOCHA: We've got the perfect storm with a new variant - which is omicron, which is now sweeping6 across America - and we've also got the weather. And then we've got the additional people who are all sweeping into the airline system to fly somewhere.

SCHAPER: This has played out before. Several airlines, including Spirit, American and Southwest, had operational meltdowns at times over the summer and fall when they were too short-staffed to handle the surge in air travel demand and didn't have enough reserve pilots and flight attendants when bad weather hit. But Leocha says the airlines were better prepared for the holiday travel surge.

LEOCHA: Some of them provided bonuses to people who stayed and worked overtime7. Other ones just paid all of the workers more money over the holidays.

SCHAPER: Spirit, for example, offered flight attendants double pay to work certain holiday flights, while United is offering pilots triple pay to work extra unstaffed flights through January. But industry consultant8 Robert W. Mann, a former airline executive, sees a possible downside to such offers.

ROBERT W MANN: It's also a great incentive9 to show up under the weather - show up sick, work while you're sick - and that would be the moral hazard.

SCHAPER: Mann cites another reason for these continuing pandemic-related staffing issues.

MANN: We've had a recovery in flight volume and in passenger volume, but we haven't always had airlines planning, I would say, realistically for the number of employees who might not be available to work.

SCHAPER: Mann and others say air travelers should get a reprieve10 from the extensive flight delays and cancellations soon because January is typically a slow time for air travel, and airlines should be able to catch up.

David Schaper, NPR News.



1 transcript JgpzUp     
  • A transcript of the tapes was presented as evidence in court.一份录音带的文字本作为证据被呈交法庭。
  • They wouldn't let me have a transcript of the interview.他们拒绝给我一份采访的文字整理稿。
2 scenario lZoxm     
  • But the birth scenario is not completely accurate.然而分娩脚本并非完全准确的。
  • This is a totally different scenario.这是完全不同的剧本。
3 byline sSXyQ     
  • His byline was absent as well.他的署名也不见了。
  • We wish to thank the author of this article which carries no byline.我们要感谢这篇文章的那位没有署名的作者。
4 variant GfuzRt     
  • We give professional suggestions according to variant tanning stages for each customer.我们针对每位顾客不同的日晒阶段,提供强度适合的晒黑建议。
  • In a variant of this approach,the tests are data- driven.这个方法的一个变种,是数据驱动的测试。
5 scrapped c056f581043fe275b02d9e1269f11d62     
废弃(scrap的过去式与过去分词); 打架
  • This machine is so old that it will soon have to be scrapped. 这架机器太旧,快报废了。
  • It had been thought that passport controls would be scrapped. 人们曾认为会放开护照管制。
6 sweeping ihCzZ4     
  • The citizens voted for sweeping reforms.公民投票支持全面的改革。
  • Can you hear the wind sweeping through the branches?你能听到风掠过树枝的声音吗?
7 overtime aKqxn     
  • They are working overtime to finish the work.为了完成任务他们正在加班加点地工作。
  • He was paid for the overtime he worked.他领到了加班费。
8 consultant 2v0zp3     
  • He is a consultant on law affairs to the mayor.他是市长的一个法律顾问。
  • Originally,Gar had agreed to come up as a consultant.原来,加尔只答应来充当我们的顾问。
9 incentive j4zy9     
  • Money is still a major incentive in most occupations.在许多职业中,钱仍是主要的鼓励因素。
  • He hasn't much incentive to work hard.他没有努力工作的动机。
10 reprieve kBtzb     
  • He was saved from the gallows by a lastminute reprieve.最后一刻的缓刑令把他从绞架上解救了下来。
  • The railway line, due for closure, has been granted a six-month reprieve.本应停运的铁路线获准多运行6 个月。
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