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Spirit Airlines apologizes as widespread flight cancellations persist for fourth day

American, Spirit Airlines cancel hundreds of flights
American and Spirit Airlines cancel hundreds of flights 02:10

Spirit Airlines said that they "sincerely apologize" for widespread outages that have canceled hundreds of flights over the past four days. The airline's issues, first reported over the weekend, are due to overlapping problems including staffing shortages, severe weather and system outages, Spirit Airlines spokesperson Erik Hofmeyer said.

Spirit canceled 165 flights on Sunday and another 277 on Monday, with every single Spirit Airlines flight out of one Tampa, Florida, airport canceled, according to FlightAware — a multinational aviation database. By Tuesday, the air carrier had canceled 60%, or 416, of the day's scheduled flights and 50% of flights on Wednesday. 

"We sincerely regret the inconvenience this has caused," Hofmeyer said in a statement Tuesday, mentioning that crews are "working around the clock to mitigate the travel disruptions."

Over the last couple of days, severe storms affected areas in southeastern Oregon, southwest Idaho, northern Nevada, the Southwest, the Northeast and the Great Basin, according to the National Weather Service. Tornadoes with large hail were reported in areas from the Great Plains to the Lower Missouri Valley, while flash flood warnings were issued throughout various areas in the country.

On Tuesday morning, Spirit's flight attendant union also reported an IT outage that restricted flight crew schedulers from modifying flight schedules for more than an hour. Spirit confirmed the outage and said Wednesday that the airline has "implemented a more thorough reboot of the network." 

Hofmeyer said Spirit is working to provide refunds and cancellations for the hundreds of travelers throughout the country who were affected. On Wednesday, he said lines in airports have "decreased substantially" and that cancellations "will progressively drop in the days to come."

But Spirit Airlines hasn't been the only air carrier affected by recent issues.

On Sunday and Monday, American Airlines experienced widespread flight delays and cancellations due to "a prolonged severe weather event in Dallas Fort-Worth," which is where the company's largest hub is located. A spokesperson from American said Tuesday that the nine-hour storm "brought sustained heavy rain, strong winds, lightning, microbursts and hail" to the area.

But according to internal flight list data from American Airlines, obtained by CBS News on Tuesday, 231 flight cancellations were due to a lack of airplane pilots while 40 cancellations were because of the weather.

American canceled 283 scheduled flights on Sunday and another 355 on Monday. By Tuesday evening, 11% of American Airlines flights were canceled and another 21% were delayed.

"Our team members are working around the clock to care for our customers," the airline spokesperson said. 

The cancellations and delays come as leisure travel returns to pre-coronavirus pandemic rates. Between July 30 to August 1, the Transportation Security Administration said it screened approximately 6.4 million travelers versus the nearly 2.3 million screened during the same time period in 2020, and the approximate 7.8 million screened in 2019.

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