CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — The holiday weekend is off to a rocky start for hundreds of passengers coming in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson.
The airport is dealing with dozens of cancellations and delays -- and it’s not due to the weather -- it’s due to a staffing shortage.
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Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was at the airport, where Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines was working on the problem.
The airline industry is trying to ramp back up from the pandemic. Many airlines, like Delta, are facing a shortage of pilots.
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Fleta Ireland said she is trying to get from Minnesota to North Carolina for her 40th high school reunion. But between delays and cancelations, they’re having a devil of a time getting there.
“So we slept on the flood last night here in the airport. I have a bad back. That was not good,” Ireland said. “I might miss it, because I can’t get out of here.” Ireland said.
Flight delays and cancelations have gotten so bad that the Delta pilot’s union took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal apologizing to passengers.
Pilot Evan Baach said they’re raking in a lot of overtime.
“So we, as Delta pilots, have been telling the company, our management, that they are staffing more flights than they have pilots available to do the flying,” Baach said.
In response, Delta issued a statement, saying:
“We continuously evaluate our staffing models and plan ahead so we can recover quickly when unforeseen circumstances arise, and the resilience of the Delta people is unmatched in that regard. Pilot schedules remain in line with all requirements set by the FAA as well as those outlined in our pilots’ contracts.”
Delta said it plans to hire hundreds more pilots and flight attendants.
Ireland wondered if she could help the situation somehow while she waited.
“I think I’ll go school to become a pilot, so I can fly some planes and get rid of the whole problem,” Ireland said.
But that’s part of the problem: You can’t just hire pilots. They need training and experience, and that takes a while.
The bottom line is that if you’re traveling this summer, check often to see if your flight is delayed or canceled.
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