Something didn’t seem quite right. A Cranky Concierge client was booked to fly during the holidays from Orlando to Raleigh/Durham on Delta Connection. A mere three weeks in advance, Delta scrubbed the flight and instead decided to operate a mainline flight 5 hours earlier. As you can imagine, the client was not happy. (We got a refund and rebooked him on Southwest.) Even though Delta is known for having an insanely frustrating number of schedule changes, this seemed like a new low for the airline. Upon further review, it looks like Delta didn’t want to do this but is instead scrambling to backfill flying its regional partners can no longer handle. There appears to be one culprit in particular.
We’ve talked about how Republic has been having trouble finding enough pilots. Now that it has a new contract with the union, it was hoping the higher rates would attract more people to fly, but that’s not a given. More importantly, it’s not going to happen overnight. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the flights that are causing Delta trouble are those that are supposed to be operated by Republic and its subsidiaries.
It was two months ago that Delta filed a lawsuit against Republic for not being able to operate the flights per the contract. At the time, Republic said it hasn’t violated the agreement, but it was very clear that it needed more pilots than it had. It’s my understanding that airlines had already pulled down schedules for some regional flying, but even that wasn’t enough in Delta’s case so it had to make last-minute changes.
How bad is it, really? I don’t have a full list of flights, though there is certainly more than just Orlando to Raleigh/Durham. (That route doesn’t go back to normal until January 2.) There does appear to be one route getting hit harder than any other.
To see where things have really gone off the rails, check out Dallas/Ft Worth to New York/LaGuardia. This is a route that’s usually operated by Shuttle America 6 or 7 times a day. But right now Delta is limping along just trying to fly half that schedule if it can.
|12/14||7a (CR9), 1007a (319), 713p (CR9)|
|12/15||713a (319), 1208p (320), 431p (319)|
|12/16||713a (CR9), 1208p (319), 240p (320), 711p (CR9)|
|12/17||7a (319), 1208p (M90), 431p (319), 713p (CR9)|
|12/18||1007a (319), 157p (M90), 711p (CR9)|
|12/21||7a (319), 1215p (CR9), 505p (319)|
|12/22||7a (M88), 1250p (319), 220p (CR9)|
|12/23||7a (319), 440p (319)|
|12/24||7a (319), 1225p (319)|
|12/25||1055a (319), 1p (CR9)|
|12/28||7a (319), 1215p (CR9), 220p (319), 505p (319)|
|12/29||7a (319), 1215p (CR9), 505p (319)|
|12/30||7a (319), 1215p (CR9)|
|12/31||7a (319), 12p (CR9)|
|01/01||12p (319), 220p (319)|
|01/04||7a (E70), 1215p (CR9), 220p (E70), 430p (CR9), 7p (E70)|
It looks like someone in Delta’s scheduling department gave his kid some egg nog, a bunch of numbers, and an assortment of aircraft types and just let him do whatever he wanted. The reality, of course is that Delta is scrambling to find ways to route its airplanes (and those of Endeavor) in ways that will allow it to cover a minimum schedule. That means that other markets are facing changes as well in order to help accommodate this new schedule.
For example, we had another client flying Atlanta to Nashville this week and a flight was inexplicably canceled a couple weeks ago. I can only assume that’s an airplane that needs to be used to cover other flying. This has been a mess, but Delta is at least trying to do something.
Naturally, I can’t get anyone to really talk about this on the record. Since Delta is suing Republic, it won’t comment. But regarding the broader issue of last minute schedule changes, Delta said that it “regrets the customer inconvenience” and “we do what we can to minimize disruption.” I asked Republic for comment and did not get a response.
This appears to be really bad through the end of the year. After that the impact lessens. Hopefully Republic can at least continue to operate what it has left at this point. But this is certainly something that should cause concern.