This is not our proudest moment’: Spirit Airlines CEO has said that more flight cancellations expected this weekend.
Spirit Airlines has been calling off flights all over the country due to summer storms, automation outages and staffing shortages.
CEO- Spirit Airlines
- Spirit Airlines CEO Ted Christie publicly addressed this week’s operational meltdown for the first time Thursday, blaming the more than 1,700 flight cancellations on a series of events variety of factors that left it short on pilots and flight attendants as August began.
- Pilots and flight attendants timed out, leaving the airline with no slack in its system and forcing cancellations.
- Things began falling apart for Spirit passengers on Sunday, Aug. 1, and have gotten worse as the week’s dragged on.
- On Tuesday and Wednesday, Spirit canceled more than 60% of its flights. On Thursday, it canceled 449 flights or 56% of its flights.
Christie said the displaced flight crews were scattered across the country and it takes time to bring them and planes back into position, which is why the airline is resorting to heavy cancellations. Technology outages with crew scheduling didn’t help.
- “The puzzle ended up getting very complex,” Christie said.
- The bad news for Spirit passengers: the mess isn’t over.
Christie said the airline will continue to cancel a large number of flights “over the next few days,” with the goal of reducing the number of cancellations heading into next week.
The airline has already cancelled 253 Friday flight.
“We’ve worked hard really over the last five years at both building Spirit and building its reputation,’’ he said.
“I think we’re made tremendous strides. This is not our proudest moment and we know that.’’
Christie declined to put a price tag on Spirit’s meltdown, saying “the math will come, when the math comes.”
But the budget airline is on the hook for stranded passengers’ hotel costs, where applicable, as well as a flood of flight refunds and the cost of rebooking on other airlines.
Spirit Airlines passengers with canceled flights at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas wait in line to be rebooked on Thursday, Aug. 5thDAWN GILBERTSON, USA TODAY
Spirit generally doesn’t rebook stranded passengers on other airlines as a matter of policy.
But late Thursday, agents at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas were furiously booking passengers on Southwest flights to San Diego after Spirit’s flight was canceled at the last minute.
It has also been sending some passengers $50 vouchers for future flights as a gesture of goodwill, though some travelers have told USA TODAY they consider it an insult.
“The intent is to give people something they can use on us in the future,” Christie said.
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