GNV avoids weekend flight cancellations

American Airlines got tossed by some turbulence over Halloween weekend with 1,900 canceled flights on top of delays nationwide, and the trouble followed the airline into November with more than 350 additional cancellations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, localized weather issues coupled with staffing shortages caused the situation to grow out of control.

Allan Penksa, CEO of the Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), said flights depend on one another, and once delays begin in one area, they can create a domino effect.

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Besides just aircraft, crews can be in the wrong place and needing to head back to their own home airport.

“It’s a monumental task that the airlines go through to do that,” Penksa said in a phone interview, adding that airlines dedicate a lot of software and personnel to scheduling flights.

But American Airlines is only the most recent to face scheduling issues.

In August, Spirit Airlines lost $50 million after scrapping approximately 2,800 flights in a 10-day window, and Southwest Airlines canceled roughly 2,000 flights last month, also because of localized weather conditions and scarce staffing.

GNV experienced little of the impact, according to Erin Porter, director of public relations for the airport.

On Saturday, flightstats.com shows a couple of flights arriving around four hours late due to delays in Dallas―where the trouble for American Airlines started. A Sunday flight from Dallas saw a 30 minute delay as well.

But other than that, GNV had all greenlights while American Airlines as a whole had to cut approximately one of every five domestic flights on Sunday,

Later this week, GNV will see the opposite of the weekend cancellations with the airport adding flights.

Porter said American Airlines will increase its service to Miami with two nonstop flights daily instead of one. The additional trip will start Wednesday.

GNV restarted its nonstop Miami route in early October after the pandemic shut it down for months.

The aircraft size will also increase from an ERJ-145 to an ERJ-175, but the larger aircraft isn’t necessarily in direct relation to the number of passengers.

Penksa said Miami can only accommodate certain aircraft types, but the airport is much happier with the two nonstop flights because it adds a lot of functionality to the route. Local citizens with business in Miami can fly down and back the same day instead of needing to grab lodging.

“It’s going to be incumbent upon the community to support that flight,” Penksa said.

Overall, GNV continues to trend above what officials expected.

In July, the airport reported 90 percent of its pre-pandemic traffic, but numbers fell as the delta variant surged in Alachua County, hitting around 75 and 80 percent for August and September.

However, Penksa said officials budgeted traffic to be at around 75 percent by the end of the year and travel has kept GNV above that benchmark.

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