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Embarrassment: Delta’s Christmas collapses one mile at a time



This is really embarrassing. Delta usually prides itself on its punctuality, and in the past even prided itself on its “punctuality”.

The airline had an operational collapse during Thanksgiving, and then agreed to investigate to ensure that something similar would not happen at Christmas, and now… something similar will happen at Christmas.

Oops: Delta’s Christmas is cancelled

Christmas Eve and Christmas are not ideal for Delta Air Lines. View the data through FlightAware:

  • On December 24, Delta Air Lines cancelled 67 flights, accounting for approximately 5% of its operations; in comparison, the United States cancelled zero flights and United Airlines cancelled nine flights.
  • On December 25 (the only morning so far), Delta Air Lines cancelled 1
    23 flights, which accounted for about 10% of its operations; in contrast, American Airlines cancelled one flight and United Airlines cancelled Flight 28

Given the typical domino effect we see in irregular operations, I am sure that the number of cancellations will only continue to increase throughout the day and throughout the weekend.

To be fair, so far, the crisis has not been as severe as Thanksgiving. Just compare:

  • On the day before Thanksgiving, Delta Air Lines cancelled 96 flights, accounting for about 4% of its operations
  • During Thanksgiving, Delta Air Lines cancelled 272 flights, accounting for approximately 18% of its operations
  • The day after Thanksgiving, Delta Air Lines cancelled 162 flights, accounting for about 9% of its operations

However, it is not even 10 am on the East Coast of the United States, so I think the number of cancellations throughout the day will only continue to increase. I would not be surprised to see Christmas as bad as Thanksgiving.

What caused Delta’s operational problems?

I think it’s safe to say that Delta’s operational problems during the Christmas period are largely related to the Atlanta-based airline’s problems during Thanksgiving. It is true that the weather during Christmas is more at Delta’s hub than on Thanksgiving, but nothing can fully explain the number of cancellations.

To make a long story short, Delta currently lacks pilots. As a large number of pilots have retired and retired early, it is necessary to retrain pilots for new aircraft, which is not an overnight process.

As a result, Delta does not have enough pilots to fly the right aircraft, especially narrow-body aircraft.

Under normal circumstances, this is not a problem, but when Delta Air Lines tries to increase the capacity of the holiday, there will be problems. Although the airline may only arrange enough pilots, this leaves zero room for pilots to become ill or have operational problems.

If the distribution of Delta is too thin to increase capacity, it is completely fair. The question is why airlines continue to over-arrange their time, and this is just a repeat of what happened during Thanksgiving, which is a situation that airlines promise to learn.

It is also worth acknowledging that the United States and United Airlines faced many of the same problems as Delta Air Lines, but the airlines did not experience large-scale cancellations.

Bottom line

Between yesterday and today, Delta Air Lines will cancel 200 aircraft. I think this number will continue to grow. Obviously, airlines are in a predicament. I can fully understand that airlines may lack enough pilots to fly the right aircraft.

Embarrassingly, Delta’s mistakes are exactly the same as those made on Thanksgiving. In the final analysis, this is about managing expectations-Delta Air Lines should have anticipated this situation and reduced itineraries in advance, rather than leaving so many passengers in trouble on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

(Hat tip viewed from the wing)


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