Delays at O'Hare still snagging air travel

August 7, 2000

BY ROBERT C. HERGUTH

BY ROBERT C. HERGUTH TRANSPORTATION REPORTER

Air travelers in Chicago and across the country were forced to contend with another wave of delays and cancellations today.

As was the case over the weekend, weather and labor issues were the main culprits.

The problems may continue into tonight.

``We're probably going to get more later on because of East Coast thunderstorms,'' Chicago aviation spokeswoman Monique Bond said about delays and cancellations.

As of this morning, delays at O'Hare Airport averaged 30 to 60 minutes, she said.

``The majority of the cancellations are with United,'' Bond said.

United Airlines, which is in the midst of contract negotiations with pilots, was forced to cancel 184 flights by noon because the airline didn't have enough pilots.

At O'Hare, there were 93 cancellations, or about 10 percent of United's total schedule.

There was ``a sharp increase in pilot sick calls,'' said Joe Hopkins, a spokesman for the Elk Grove Township-based carrier. He predicted such calls would subside when a deal is reached with the Air Line Pilots Association. ``We have chosen not to quantify it ... but there's been a sharp increase.'' The airline also has had trouble staffing its cockpits because many pilots are refusing to work overtime, another clue to the state of negotiations.

American Airlines, meanwhile, had about 20 cancellations and one-hour delays at O'Hare by this afternoon, said spokesman John Hotard.

His prognosis was bleak: ``We think ATC [air traffic control] is going to put in more ground stops and ground delays as weather worsens between Chicago and the East.''