Ahead of July 4th, pilots striking across the U.S. could hinder flight plans for thousands ahead of the holiday.
On Thursday, over 1,200 Delta Airlines off-duty pilots began a strike in a demonstration spanning seven airports—in New York City, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Los Angeles.
A shortage of pilots led to many of these pilots working overtime, too often according to a first officer for Delta David Adler.
“Overtime is not a bad thing, but relying on it all the time is problematic,” he told USA Today.
Therefore, when there is inclement weather, “saturation in the airspace,” or “a little bit of a hiccup in the system” airlines do not have a way to compensate without forcing pilots to work overtime. So far, many pilots worked more overtime than in 2018 and 2019 combined.
However, Delta said that despite the strike it expects “to carry customer volumes from Friday, July 1, through Monday, July 4.”
Still, Delta pilots are not the only ones striking. In recent days Southwest Airlines pilots and FedEx pilots both began a strike over ongoing contract issues. They also blame airlines for the continued mass delays and cancelations.
American Airlines pilots continue to work on a deal with the airline ahead of the weekend. The airline recently offered to increase pay to pilots by 17% come 2024, as detailed in a tentative agreement according to CNBC.
More recently, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said that the U.S. government may act on consumers’ behalf if airlines cannot meet demand. He also pushed airlines to add customer service workers.
“We are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering,” Buttigieg told the Associated Press.
Buttigieg said that he wants to see how airlines handle the stress of the coming holiday weekend. With the pilots’ picketing and strikes heading into the weekend, it is unclear how airlines will cope with the looming demand.