One of America's largest regional carriers, SkyWest Airlines, has canceled hundreds of flights three days in a row, and it's not the only airline impacted.
"SkyWest experienced an internal technical issue, resulting in approximately 700 flight cancellations before the issue was resolved Thursday evening," SkyWest told USA TODAY in a statement. "We apologize to customers for the inconvenience."
The airline said it continued to experience operational disruptions as it worked to get crew and aircraft into position. More than 700 SkyWest flights were canceled Friday, according to FlightAware, which tracks flight cancellations and delays in real time.
Disruptions continued the following day, with more than 100 flights canceled Saturday.
United Airlines' website had said the issue was a server outage at SkyWest.
Delta Air Lines told USA TODAY, "Our technical teams engaged with SkyWest IT to resolve the issue and minimize the impact on our customers. We are working with customers directly to accommodate them to their destination as soon as possible and apologize for the inconvenience."
Roughly 170 of American Airlines' flights were impacted Thursday and about 50 more were affected Friday, the airline told USA TODAY, adding that it's been working to re-accommodate passengers and provide hotel vouchers as needed.
Alaska Airlines told USA TODAY that 80 of its flights were canceled Thursday and 53 were canceled Friday, though more were possible. "We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused for our guests," the airline said. "We’re providing services to them as we work to get impacted travelers to their destinations as quickly as possible."
The airline risks losing its federal contracts should staffers not be fully vaccinated by the December 8 deadline. The U.S. government is the airline's biggest client, Kelly said.
In an interview Thursday with CBS News, Kelly said of those who have submitted their status, "a supermajority are vaccinated" and those who are not are being offered a financial incentive to get vaccinated.
On Monday, dozens of protestors demonstrated outside the airline's Dallas, Texas headquarters, and its pilot union filed a restraining order this month to prevent members from having to comply. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates, which Kelly said he agrees with.
"I'm very much for ending this pandemic ... but it doesn't translate into imposing my will on people who are reluctant to get the vaccine for whatever reason," he said. Staff who cannot get vaccinated need to "seek an accommodation, either for medical or religious reasons," Kelly said, which is permitted under President Joe Biden's executive order.
The airline recently reversed its policy to put unvaccinated staff awaiting approval for an exemption to be placed on "unpaid leave" in an effort to calm fears over unemployment. American Airlines, also based in Texas, issued a statement saying Abbot's executive order wouldn't change its requirements and the company intends to follow the federal guidance, which it believes "supersedes any conflicting state laws."
The deadlines are approaching as holiday travel ramps up. Southwest, however, is reducing its schedule. The airline reported a loss of $75 million this month due to the mass cancellation of more than 2,000 flights because of weather and staffing issues in Florida.
Asked if he can assure travelers there won't be a repeat of those mass cancellations, which the Southwest Pilots Union called an "operational meltdown," Kelly responded, "I can certainly say that [we] will be well prepared to serve our customers here in the fourth quarter and over the holidays."
Southwest (LUV) and American Airlines (AAL) beat third-quarter views Thursday, as the airline industry faces questions about rising fuel costs and its ability to attract and retain staff. Airline stocks finished the day mixed.
The carriers reported after United Airlines (UAL) on Tuesday turned in third-quarter earnings that beat estimates. United said it expected "record levels" of flying to locations abroad next summer as it tries to position itself for the reopening of global travel.
Southwest Airlines lost 23 cents a share. That was better than FactSet's estimates for a loss of 27 cents per share. Sales of $4.68 billion were above expectations for $4.58 billion. The carrier said that beyond October, booking trends for the holidays were in line with 2019.
American Airlines lost 99 cents a share, better than expectations for a $1.06 per-share loss. Revenue of $8.97 billion was above forecasts for $8.85 billion.
American sees Q4 capacity down 11%-13% vs. 2019 levels, with total revenue down 20% vs. Q4 2019.
Earlier in the week, United said it lost $1.02 per share during the third quarter. That was better than the $1.58 expected, according to FactSet.
The carrier reported revenue of $7.8 billion, also topping forecasts for $7.64 billion. The company cited a rebound in upscale leisure travel, an uptick in business travel and eased restrictions in some markets across the Pacific.
United forecast fourth-quarter revenue down 25% to 30% compared to 2019. FactSet forecast a 24% drop from those levels, to $8.24 billion.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) last week put up its first round of positive earnings per share in the pandemic era, on a rebound in travel demand. But it warned on rising fuel costs.
Mesa Air Group Inc. said it is planning to test home delivery of food and beverages via drones in Nevada by the end of the year, as it considers the potential for nationwide service.
The regional airline’s move comes as big e-commerce players including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit as well as dozens of startups pursue drone delivery to household consumers. All face the challenge of securing regulatory approval and stirring consumer acceptance as demand for home delivery continues to boom.
Phoenix-based Mesa plans to start with four drones made by Flirtey Inc. of Reno, Nev., with options on another 500 over the next four years to expand the service in the U.S. and to New Zealand.
The four-rotor Flirtey Eagle electric drones fly autonomously. The company expects them to be operated from restaurants, lowering deliveries on a 60-foot line to consumers’ doorsteps before returning to base.
U.S. regulators are developing rules to integrate commercial drones with existing airspace users such as aircraft. The biggest focus is on qualifying drones to fly commercially when operators can’t see them. A unit of United Parcel Service Inc. is the only company so far to receive a license.
Mesa flies passengers on shorter routes on behalf of carriers including United Airlines Holdings Inc., but Mr. Ornstein said traffic growth has stalled. The company has diversified with all-cargo flights on jetliners and plans to operate air taxis and small, electric aircraft when the technology matures and regulators sign off.
Mr. Sweeny declined to identify potential food-service providers. He said Flirtey had conducted test flights to deliver packages in recent years with a Domino’s Pizza franchisee in New Zealand and with a 7-Eleven Inc. store in Reno.
Flying experience is also viewed by investors as crucial for the nascent air-taxi market. U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace Group Inc. has sold its in-development, four-passenger aircraft to customers including American Airlines Group Inc., Virgin Atlantic Airways and helicopter operator Bristow Group Inc., with first commercial flights expected in 2025.