Southwest, United among airlines cutting flights amid rising profits

Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and others have announced that staffing shortages and higher fuel costs are to blame for them cutting thousands of spring and summer flights from their schedules.

Southwest Airlines recently cut a reported 14,500 flights from schedules March through May and said it expects about 4% fewer flights this year, even after stronger than anticipated recent bookings.

United Airlines noted that some of its flight cuts can be attributed to the national pilot shortage. The airline recently reported it had to ground nearly 100 regional jets because there was no one to fly them.

However, both companies also noted a rebounding demand for tickets as travelers perceive a reduction in COVID-19 spread. And most airlines are expecting a profitable year.

Industry executives say bookings have exploded recently, and Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein says his company is seeing an “unparalleled” increase in demand. He said the airline recently had the best day of sales in the carrier's 100-year history.

American Airlines also reduced its schedule, reportedly cutting 10,621 of its March flights. But it said the slimmer schedule would better match the carrier's resources to traveler demand, citing delays in Boeing delivering new wide-body planes.

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