Crew shortage cancels 150 flights at O'Hare

Sunday, August 6, 2000

By The Associated Press

United Airlines canceled at least 150 arriving and departing flights at O'Hare International Airport on Saturday, mostly because of a shortage of pilots.

Many of the missing pilots have worked all their allotted weekly hours trying to make up for flights canceled Thursday and Friday because of bad weather in the East, United spokesman Chris Brathwaite said. Others were absent due to illness. He said there was no way to determine the breakdown of the two.

A few flights also were canceled because of pockets of bad weather around the nation, he said.

"Predominantly it's the pilots - they either can't work because they're out of time or they've called in sick," Brathwaite said.

United pilots have refused to work overtime since their contract expired in April, he said. United and the pilots' union are negotiating a contract with a federal mediator and hope to have a new agreement in place by early September.

A pilots' union spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment Saturday. In the past, the union has denied there is an organized effort to refuse overtime work.

Brathwaite said United has about 960 flights per day out of O'Hare, and Saturday's number of cancellations was unusually high. He said the O'Hare cancellations were about half of the airline's systemwide total for the day.

"Everyone in our system is affected by this," he said.