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More than 500 flights across US are canceled as critics blame ‘pilot shortage’ on Covid vax policies

As Americans prepare for a patriotic July 4 weekend, expect airline delays and cancellations as critics blame the pilot shortage on vaccine mandates as travel chaos continues for the second week in a row.

More than 500 flights have already been canceled on Wednesday and more than 2,000 delayed in the US, with New Jersey’s Newark Liberty topping the US list with 45 canceled flights.

A total of 1,800 flights have been canceled in the US so far this week Hilland more than 5,300 flights were canceled between June 16 and 20, according to CBS News

The mess has now spread to Canada, with Toronto Pearson International Airport canceling 48 flights on Wednesday.

A behind-the-scenes video, obtained by ABC newsshows hundreds of passenger bags on a large stationary conveyor belt and in neat rows on the floor.

An airport spokesman told ABC News that flight delays and cancellations were the result of staff shortages and a “temporary mechanical failure” that led to the baggage backlog.

More than 500 flights have already been canceled on Wednesday and more than 2,000 delayed in the US as passengers prepare for a stressful travel weekend

More than 500 flights have already been canceled on Wednesday and more than 2,000 delayed in the US as passengers prepare for a stressful travel weekend

Passengers wait in long lines at Atlanta airport

Passengers wait in long lines at Atlanta airport

Delta has already shortened its flight schedule along with Southwest.  Delta Airlines revealed that staff has been working more overtime than in 2018 and 2019, pre-pandemic, and said it expects

Delta has already shortened its flight schedule along with Southwest. Delta Airlines revealed that staff has been working more overtime than in 2018 and 2019, pre-pandemic, and said it expects “operational challenges” this weekend

US airlines are struggling to keep up with demand, which is higher than last year, due to staff shortages and weather-related issues. Airlines also blame the FAA for not having an adequate summer travel plan to help with the pitfalls the industry is currently facing.

however, the Bill O’Reilly Show found that airlines have received more than double the number of pilot applications than in 2020. According to O’Reilly, 8,000 new pilots have been certified.

“They lie, they lie,” he said. “They’re just so disorganized across the board.”

In addition, the Biden administration blames the airlines and says it has received billions in stimulus money to stay afloat during the pandemic and that it must stick to the schedule it publishes.

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier this month that airlines had until July 4 to troubleshoot and resolve the issues so that travelers can have a smooth summer vacation.

Travel chaos has also reached Toronto (pictured), where luggage is stored and travelers also experience delays

Travel chaos has also reached Toronto (pictured), where luggage is stored and travelers also experience delays

An estimated 48 million Americans will travel this weekend, and 3.5 million are expected to take to the skies.

Delta Airlines revealed that its staff has been working more overtime than in 2018 and 2019, pre-pandemic, and said it expects “operational challenges” this weekend.

It said passengers can rebook trips if they are delayed over the weekend. The only downside is that passengers have to keep their travel destinations the same.

The announcement comes two days before Delta pilots plan to pick up in seven major cities, including New York and Detroit, according to CBS. In addition, Delta has already cut 100 daily flights and Southwest cut 20,000 this summer, making it even harder for busy airports to keep up with avid travelers, CBS News reported.

A recent contract through the largest pilot unit ALPA has also negotiated a 14 percent pay increase for United Airlines pilots, who earn an average of $160,000 per year for 18 months. Delta pilots are currently in the midst of contract negotiations and are also calling for a pay rise and better retirement benefits, as well as schedule changes to reduce disruptions.

Pilots have also criticized airlines for creating a chaotic travel season due to covid vaccine mandates.

A Southwest pilot said during a protest — which saw 1,300 Southwest employees work outside Dallas Love Field Airport earlier this month — that he believed the mandate was the main cause.

“I think it’s because of the COVID vaccines – they still need the vaccination for all new applicants and if the new applicants say they won’t get vaccinated, their application will be passed,” said pilot Tom Bogart. News Nation

He said many “highly qualified candidates” are being passed over because they have not been vaccinated.

Delta pilots stand in front of New York's Grand Central Terminal on June 16 to protest the harsh work environment as they demand better pay and pension plans during the chaotic year of travel.  Pilots from the Southwest have also recently protested outside the Dallas Love Field

Delta pilots stand in front of New York’s Grand Central Terminal on June 16 to protest the harsh work environment as they demand better pay and pension plans during the chaotic year of travel. Pilots from the Southwest have also recently protested outside the Dallas Love Field

‘The Executive Order’ [for mandating vaccines] is not dead,” he told News Nation.

He said pilots are still “passionate” about flying and “love what we do,” but the focus should be on the airlines, not the pilots.

“You should ask Southwest Airlines, ‘What are you doing proactively?’ We are still in the same place as last summer. We are still in the same place as we were during the holidays,” he said earlier this month.

Nearly a year ago, pilots spoke out about the mandate, and many left the industry or retired — though airlines haven’t released a definitive figure on how many have actually resigned.

Ahead of Memorial Day, a travel expert told Brian Kelly: Fox Business that he expected the pilot shortage would only get worse as the summer travel season continues due to the pilot shortage.

Another reason he said the shortage could occur is the cost of becoming a pilot.

“It’s very expensive to be a pilot,” he told Fox Business in May.

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