DETROIT, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – For the past several days, the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) and the Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) has experienced thousands of flight cancellations leaving holiday travelers temporarily stranded.
DTW ranks #18 on the top twenty busiest U.S. airports while the GRR ranks #74, but within Michigan they are ranked #1 and #2 respectively. On Monday alone, more than 4,000 flights were canceled nationally with as few as six cancellations from the GR Airport.
According to statistics provided by Flightaware, GRR had 52 delayed flights yesterday and 8 cancellations, and can expect at least 12 delayed flights today with 6 flight cancellations. The airline is already anticipating another 10 cancellations by the end of Thursday. Meanwhile, DTW had 288 delayed flights yesterday and 70 canceled flights, while today they have already had 34 delayed flights and 26 canceled planes. They are expecting at least one delay tomorrow and nearly 20 more canceled flights by Thursday.
The airline with the highest number of cancellations was Southwest Airlines, which has prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to look into the airline with more scrutiny.
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service. The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan,” The USDOT said in a tweet.
The Texas based airline led the number of canceled and delayed flights by enormous margins, with 63% of its flights canceled on Tuesday alone. The next most canceled airline was China Eastern, with 33% of its flights being canceled. By comparison other major airlines canceled by a much smaller margin: Spirit (11%), Alaska (9%), United (2%), Delta (1%), and American (>1%).
Of the 2,890 flight cancellations in the U.S. on Tuesday, 2,522 were called off by Southwest according to the Detroit News. Southwest spokesman Jay McVay said at a press conference in Houston that cancellations snowballed as storm systems moved across the country, leaving flight and crews and planes out of place they also reported.
“So we’ve been chasing our tails, trying to catch up and get back to normal safely, which is our number one priority as quickly as we could,” he said. “And that’s exactly how we ended up where we are today.”
President Joseph Biden has also weighed on the issue, assuring the American people of efforts to address the flight cancellation frenzy.
“Thousands of flights nationwide have been canceled around the holidays. Our administration is working to ensure airlines are held accountable,” Biden said in a Tweet.
Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, has also stated on Twitter his watch of the Southwest airlines and that he would have more to say later on Tuesday.