Transportation

JetBlue adjusts schedule through summer because of crew shortages

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JetBlue Airways is adjusting its flight schedule through the summer as the airline struggles with staffing shortages.

In a statement to The Hill on Monday, JetBlue said that despite hiring more than 3,000 new crew members this year, the airline is still facing staffing shortages. As a result, the company is implementing “a small schedule adjustment” for the rest of April and will reduce its flight schedule from May through the summer.

“Despite hiring more than 3,000 new crewmembers already this year, like many businesses, we remain staffing constrained and these disruptions exacerbate an already challenging staffing situation,” JetBlue said in a statement.

“In order to get our operation back on track this week and provide additional recovery options for the potential of additional April weather events, we are cancelling some flights this weekend and will be making a small schedule adjustment through the rest of the month,” the company added.

A JetBlue spokesperson told The Hill in a statement on Wednesday that the airline has reduced its May capacity between eight and 10 percent, adding “and you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer.”

The airline on Monday said it is hiring hundreds of new crew members every week to prepare for the summer, but in anticipation of “continued industry challenges and heavy demand into the summer,” it is “planning more conservatively.”

“While we believe April will continue to be challenging, we are bringing on hundreds of new crewmembers each week as we prepare for summer travel. We have also reduced our schedule from May through the summer,” JetBlue said in its statement.

“Given we anticipate continued industry challenges and heavy demand into the summer, we are planning more conservatively and trying to be proactive where we can with cancellations due to disruptive weather and air traffic control events,” the airline added.

The JetBlue spokesperson on Wednesday said the company hopes reducing the flight schedule over the summer and hiring new crew members allows for “more breathing room in the system.”

“By reducing our flight schedule for the summer and continuing to hire new crewmembers, we hope to have more breathing room in the system to help ease some of the recent delays and cancellations that we’ve seen in the industry,” the spokesperson said.

JetBlue’s announcement of upcoming schedule adjustments comes after the airline canceled a number of flights over the weekend because of staffing problems and bad weather, according to USA Today.

In its statement on Monday, the company referenced “a number of tough operating days.”

“After a number of tough operating days this week that began with severe weather challenges and air traffic control delays up and down the east coast, we are continuing to work to minimize impacts to our customers,” the airline wrote.

JetBlue and other major airlines canceled a number of flights in late December and early January amid coronavirus-driven staffing shortages and bad weather.

JetBlue made headlines earlier this month when it unveiled a $3.6 billion bid to purchase Spirit Airlines, throwing the merger between Spirit and Frontier Airlines announced two months earlier into question.

Monique Beals contributed to this report.

Updated April 13 at 4:01 p.m.

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