TAMPA, Fla. — Passengers on both Spirit and American Airlines have seen several cancellations since Sunday, as airlines continue to battle staffing issues. 

What You Need To Know

  • Airlines are having to cancel flights due to staffing shortages

  • Spirit Airlines canceled roughly half of their flights on Tuesday

  • Cancellations and delays are expected to last the next few weeks

Spirit Airlines canceled roughly half of their scheduled flights on Tuesday, which doesn’t include the hundreds canceled in the days prior. The trend continued Wednesday morning. 

Jim Shilling, a longtime commercial airline pilot, says airlines are experiencing industry-wide staffing shortages which are contributing to cancellations and delays. 

“The economy has come back very strong and we have to hire a huge amount of new pilots in order to replace and augment,” he explained. “Then we have to keep the pilots who are currently flying trained as well and the system isn’t largest enough to handle both of those.” 

Shilling says the process of training a new pilot can take upwards of 6 months. In addition, every time a pilot is reassigned to a different aircraft they have to undergo weeks of training which pulls them out of rotation. Altogether, Shilling says, it creates a backlog in the system. 

“There’s always a latency from when we make a change to when we see the effects of the change in the airlines. So we will see more flights canceled, but over time we will return to some degree of normalcy,” he said. 

Many airlines and airports are also experiencing the same staffing shortages seen in other industries. That includes a lack of maintenance workers, gate attendants, and service employees. 

Shilling estimates cancellations and delays will continue for the next few weeks before airlines can catch up with demand. ​