- American Airlines said Monday that it is ramping up staffing—particularly within flight operations—to make sure that the thousands of cancellations that happened over Halloween weekend won’t happen again as people head home for the holidays.
- COO David Seymour said the airline would wrap up what he called a “brief irregular ops period” in early November as the airline continues to ramp up crew staffing.
- The airline said it will hire 440 hiring pilots between now and the end of 2021, as well as staff within tech operations, at airports and in reservations, “so more team members will be in place for the holiday season,” Seymour said.
- But the most recent concern was in the back of the airplane: Nearly 1,800 flight attendants are expected to return to the job from leave beginning Monday and more than 600 new flight attendants will be hired by the end of December, he said.
- American Airlines has canceled another 250 flights on Monday, continuing a days-long chain reaction of cancellations that started last week.
- American says it canceled 1,058 flights on Sunday, or roughly one in every five of its originally scheduled flights. That was on top of the 548 flights it canceled on Saturday and 343 flights on Friday. Overall about 10% of its mainline flights have been canceled over the four-day period. The canceled flights have stranded tens of thousands of passengers.
- In a memo, American COO David Seymour said the airline is “proactively canceling” flights to provide “scheduling certainty for our crews” after high winds and bad weather hit major hubs including Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday, leaving flight crews out of position.
- American insists help is on the way. Starting Monday, the airline says 1,800 flight attendants are returning from pandemic time-off
- U.S. air-safety regulators are preparing to issue warnings to pilots and airlines about potential interference with key cockpit safety systems by a new 5G wireless service slated to go live as soon as early December, according to current and former government and aviation industry officials briefed on the matter.
- The Federal Aviation Administration has been drafting a special bulletin and accompanying mandates that would say certain automated features used by pilots to help fly and land planes could be affected by wireless towers on the ground transmitting the new 5G signals, these officials said. The FAA actions aren’t expected to be directed at consumers’ use of cellphones.
- The cockpit systems, commonplace in modern air travel, help planes land in poor weather, prevent crashes and avoid midair collisions. The FAA has determined that if commercial pilots aren’t able to use the features, that could lead to flight cancellations, delays or diversions in 46 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas where the towers are located, these officials said.
- Officials at the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates commercial use of the airwaves, and the telecom industry have pushed back on the safety concerns, saying the available evidence doesn’t support the conclusion that 5G networks will interfere with aviation. The FCC set its rules for use of the spectrum in early 2020 after reviewing the potential impact on aviation, paving the way for Verizon Communications Inc. and others to roll out service.
- The FAA officials’ safety concerns aren’t satisfied, current and former government officials said. The FCC and FAA are discussing the issue, and air-safety regulators could eventually decide to issue more targeted warnings that could result in fewer travel disruptions, these officials said.
- The FAA’s planned warnings are part of a long-running dispute between the aviation and telecom industries and their regulators. There have been disagreements over the seriousness of potential safety risks, data sharing and the quality of research, fueling a disconnect between efforts to protect aircraft and expand the latest wireless networks.
- An FCC spokeswoman said the telecom regulator remains committed to ensuring air safety “while moving forward with the deployment of new technologies that support American business and consumer needs.”
- An FAA spokesman said the agency was working with other government officials “so that aviation and the newest generation of 5G cellular technology can safely coexist.”
- The final language and scope of the FAA bulletin, along with mandates and pilot alerts, haven’t been determined, current and former government officials said. The FAA can impose restrictions on U.S. flight operations and can issue warnings to avoid flying in certain areas such as war zones.
- At the heart of the dispute is the U.S. rollout of 5G. Short for fifth-generation wireless, 5G technology offers internet speeds 100 times faster than today’s 4G service, potentially paving the way for new applications, revenue and jobs.
- Last month, it was announced that the United States was preparing to ease travel restrictions for unvaccinated passengers. Then, on October 25th, the US government formally shared that the presidential proclamations essentially halting general tourism from Europe will no longer be in effect on November 8th. As a result, according to United Airlines’ leadership, bookings from across the Atlantic Ocean have been rising “by almost right angles.”
- “It was reported by ACI that Denver was the third busiest worldwide airport in the first half of this year. So we’re going to go and put a second daily service there, which is fantastic. For New York, we were originally eyeing up going to six, but we’re going to seven daily services on Heathrow-New York – they get a great step forward.
- Also, San Francisco, our jewel in the West Coast crown, along with LA, going from two to three services daily for summer of 2022,” Schumacher told Simple Flying.
- “And, of course, we start Boston, which we’ve been talking about for a while. and it was really a case of when is the opportune moment to go and start that service? So, that comes along as well. We could not be more excited. We could not have come out of hibernation more dramatically than we had done with this announcement.”
- New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have long been tourism and economic hotspots that airlines naturally focus on. However, it was only in late 2019 when United’s Denver service became year-round rather than seasonal. Now, United is already doubling down on this operation.
- Denver International reported 24.7 million passengers taking off or landing at the airport in the first six months of 2021. This factor had put it only behind Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International and Dallas-Fort Worth when it came to passenger traffic.
- Notably, Denver is almost at pre-pandemic capacity. The airport saw 5.9 million passengers in August, down by only 0.96% when compared with 2019.
- It’s not only Denver where United is seeing opportunities. The operator is inaugurating a route from London to Boston in March 2022. Interestingly, it’s deploying its premium heavy Boeing 767-300ERs on this service. Overall, the carrier is keen to cater to emerging markets in this new climate.