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JetBlue Announces Major Shift for the Summer After Hundreds of Flight Cancellations

Airlines are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's travel chaos.

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It's been a rough time for travel; many people were left scrambling to get to their destinations last week after bad weather in Florida led to hundreds of cancellations and delays across major U.S. airlines. But JetBlue passengers were hit particularly hard over the weekend when more than 300 flights were canceled due to staffing shortages, CNBC reports.

Now, as JetBlue looks ahead to what it anticipates to be an extremely busy peak travel season, it's reconsidering its strategy for the summer. "We've already reduced May capacity 8-10% and you can expect to see a similar size capacity pull for the remainder of the summer," Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's COO and president, said in an email to staff on Saturday, which was viewed by CNBC.

Related: Southwest Airlines CEO Speaks Out on Cancellation Chaos and Vaccine Mandate

Airlines are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's travel mayhem, when Covid-induced staffing challenges resulted in hundreds of canceled flights and delays. "I think everyone recognizes that the industry still remains very much in recovery mode, so we believe this proactive step is the right decision," Geraghty wrote. According to Geraghty's email, despite hiring 2,500 people this year, JetBlue still doesn't have the staff required to run at full capacity.

JetBlue isn't the first major airline to adjust its summer schedule to combat the ongoing staff shortage. After canceling dozens of flights at the beginning of the month, Alaska Airlines announced last week that it would reduce its schedule by 2% through the end of June. "The primary cause of cancellations is the shortage of pilots available to fly versus what was planned when we built our April schedule in January," the airline said on Friday.

Related: Disgruntled Customers Sound Off on Southwest Airlines Amid Cancellations

Per Geraghty's email, JetBlue will share more details about its mitigation strategy in the coming weeks. Over the course of the month, U.S. airline executives will reveal their staffing and capacity plans.

Last week, JetBlue also made headlines for its $3.6 billion offer to purchase Spirit Airlines, potentially thwarting Frontier Airlines' plans to acquire the budget carrier.

JetBlue Airways Corporation was up 2.52% as of 10:35 a.m. EST.

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