CHICAGO (Reuters) - Northwest Airlines Corp. canceled an unusually high number of flights over the weekend, blaming a spike in pilot absenteeism for the disruption.
The No. 5 U.S. airline said it could not give a reason for the high rate of absenteeism, but the union representing the pilots has linked it to inadequate staffing during the peak summer travel season.
A Northwest spokesman said the carrier completed about 92 percent of its scheduled flights from Friday through Saturday compared with about 99 percent which is more typical for the airline.
“We expect today’s operations to improve,” Northwest spokesman Roman Blahoski said.
Northwest has canceled 97 out of 1,419 scheduled flights on Monday, according to Flightstats.com. Northwest canceled 223 out of 1,388 scheduled flights on Sunday, Flightstats.com said.
A surge in cancellations recently comes at a particularly bad time for the airline, which is trying to build momentum for its recovery after a 20-month bankruptcy reorganization that ended in May. Northwest suffered a similar surge in cancellations in late June.
In a note to employees on Friday, Chief Executive Doug Steenland said the carrier is cutting its August flight schedule, recalling furloughed pilots and planning to hire more pilots.
Northwest is set to report is second-quarter earnings on Tuesday. The company is expected to earn 81 cents per share, according to Wall Street analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.
Shares of Northwest were down 5 percent at $18.04, in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Kyle Peterson
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