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Which Airlines Cancelled The Most Flights This Summer?

For some airlines, this summer hasn’t been all it was cracked up to be. After over a year of Americans being mostly stuck at home, the sudden surge in passenger numbers in June prompted many carriers to lay on a smorgasbord of new flights, as they scrambled to return to pre-pandemic levels of profitability.

Unfortunately, not all airlines had accounted for the additional staffing requirements needed to maintain such a schedule; particularly those that had furloughed workers during the pandemic, like American Airlines. Others simply bit off more than they could chew. Southwest Airlines, for instance, laid on more new routes this year than any other major airline and forced pilots to work additional shifts with almost no notice to make up the hours.


This shortsightedness, coupled with a few unfortunate tropical storms, caused a disaster for airline passengers, with huge numbers of flights either delayed or cancelled. Southwest was the worst offender, with 3,250 flights cancelled in June - approximately 3.30% of the airline’s entire operations.

Data from the Department for Transportation shows that American Airlines was the second worst in terms of raw numbers, cancelling 2,400 flights in one month. This represented 3.41% of all American’s planes in the air.


Southwest Airlines cancelled over 3,000 flights in June (Data according to Department for Transportation).

More shockingly still, in June over 12,800 Southwest services were delayed by at least 15 minutes, representing 13.04% of flights that month.

These figures not only represent major inconveniences for passengers but also indicate the serious staff shortages that both AA and Southwest struggled with throughout the summer. Both airlines are now being threatened with strikes by their pilots’ unions for the relentless schedules workers were forced to endure over the summer.



12,852 Southwest flights were delayed in June.

Delta, by contrast maintained a much more sustainable flight schedule, with 86.74% of its services arriving on time in June - the highest of any of the big four airlines. The Atlanta-based carrier also delivered the lowest cancellation figures, with just 12 planes not taking off during the entire month.

United was similarly successful in ensuring planes got off the ground, although it did suffer slightly more delays than Delta. This perhaps reflects the latter’s decision not to furlough any staff during the pandemic and instead commit to hiring an additional 1,500 flight attendants in time for next summer.


Delta Airlines was by far the most on-time carrier early this summer.


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