Is this going to be the summer of delays? We already knew that the mass grounding of the 737 MAX was going to create some issues this summer. There are now some other factors in the mix that could cause travel disruptions just as Americans gear up to fly for their summer vacations.
American Airlines is already warning its customers that they should expect disruptions when they fly this summer. What's going on behind the scenes? Labor disputes and a lawsuit are creating some major issues. American Airlines filed a lawsuit this week that accuses its mechanics union of causing thousands of flight delays and cancellations so far this year.
American Airlines claims that mechanics are unlawfully slowing down operations in an attempt to gain leverage in ongoing contract negotiations. Labor talks between the airline and mechanics have actually been going on since 2015. The lawsuit that was just filed provides some insight into just how bad the alleged slowdown has been for business. American claims that the slow work habits of mechanics have resulted in a total of 644 canceled flights and 1,500 delayed flights since February. What's more, 270 of those delays lasted for two hours or more. American Airlines is now dealing with 14 cancelled flights per day as a result of what it is alleging is a concerted effort to hinder the airline's performance.
What does all of this mean for your summer travel plans? American is warning that at least 2,200 flights could be canceled or significantly delayed this summer if mechanics continue their actions. The delays could impact as many as 300,000 passengers.
American Airlines isn't the only carrier that's caught in a tough spot with labor negotiations at the moment. Southwest Airlines has also been caught in a labor dispute. Southwest has alleged that intentional maintenance delays have lost the airline millions of dollars per week. It was only yesterday that Southwest Airlines' mechanics finally approved their new contract.