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Wednesday updates: Spirit Airlines cancellations in Tampa still piling up

Some Spirit flights have resumed as the company blames weather, outages and staff shortages for the disruption.
A Spirit Airlines jet sits before the Tampa skyline on April 14 in Tampa. For the fourth straight day, the carrier is experiencing widespread cancellations, including many at Tampa International Airport.
A Spirit Airlines jet sits before the Tampa skyline on April 14 in Tampa. For the fourth straight day, the carrier is experiencing widespread cancellations, including many at Tampa International Airport. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 4
Updated Aug. 5

After days of disruptions, some Spirit Airlines flights have resumed at Tampa International Airport. But more than 25 cancellations still piled up during the day Wednesday.

About 15 additional Spirit flights out of Tampa had been canceled by 4:30 p.m., including routes to Houston, Las Vegas, Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.

At least 10 arrivals had also been canceled, including from cities like Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Atlanta and Kansas City.

Related: Thursday updates: Some cancelled Spirit Airlines flights in Tampa resume, others stay grounded

Andie Rice-Tanner had a ticket from Tampa to Kansas City to visit family in Wichita, including grandparents, nieces and nephews she hadn’t seen in years. Spirit texted her Tuesday night letting her know her Wednesday flight was canceled; until then, all she knew about the delays was what she’d heard on the news.

“I understand that things like this happen for airlines and businesses, but the way they’re handling the people side of it is horrifying,” said Rice-Tanner, 37, of Dunedin.

Rather than rebook, Rice-Tanner asked for a refund.

“I can afford to be out the money until I get a refund, and if I didn’t get a refund, I would be mad, but I’d be okay,” she said. “But there are so many people out there that are relying on Spirit Airlines because it’s the cheapest airline, and that’s the only way they can afford to travel. They can’t afford another day in a hotel room and rebooking everything. They don’t have the extra money. It’s just awful for them.”

Twenty-three Spirit flights at Tampa International Airport were canceled on Tuesday, bringing the Saturday-to-Tuesday total to 72. The airport did see two Spirit flights on Tuesday, both to and from Chicago. Three Spirit flights took off from Tampa on Wednesday, said airport spokesperson Ashley Iaccarino.

Related: From Tuesday: More Spirit, American Airlines flights canceled at Tampa airport

From Sunday to Tuesday, more than 1,000 Spirit flights across America were canceled, and another 741 were delayed, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com. Another 418 flights had already been canceled by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, more than triple the number of any other U.S. carrier.

In a new company statement, Spirit cited “overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages and staffing shortages that caused widespread irregularities in our operation and impacted crew scheduling.” The carrier said staffing shortages were not due to a crew shortage or strike, but noted that all problems were made worse due to the busy summer travel season.

“After working through yesterday’s proactive cancellations, we’ve implemented a more thorough reboot of the network, allowing us to reassign our crews more efficiently and restore the network faster,” the statement read. “As a result, cancellation numbers will progressively drop in the days to come.”

Spirit is Tampa International Airport’s fifth largest carrier, servicing more than 148,000 passengers in June.

American Airlines, which has also seen widespread delays and cancellations due to crew and weather issues, had canceled 118 flights nationally and delayed 453 more by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Southwest Airlines, which delayed more than 1,100 Tuesday flights due to weather, was at 566 delayed flights.