Spirit Airlines continues to take a nosedive as it cancels most of its flights nationwide; 22 flights were canceled from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport alone since Sunday.
The Florida-based carrier stumbled through the beginning of the week, canceling half of its schedule on Tuesday due to glitches in staff scheduling technology and infrastructure issues spurred on by weather-related concerns. Cancellation woes continued into Wednesday, with 418 flights (60%) of their schedule canceled by 1 p.m.
Hard to see how #spiritairlines survives after this weekend. My boyfriend and I only got a small taste of the chaos in Orlando and Houston. I feel for the thousands of other passengers who are having a worse experience. pic.twitter.com/QKrOGsuULD
— Alicia Pryor (@PryorAlicia) August 2, 2021
Only one flight out of the six arrivals and six departures scheduled at ABIA will still arrive according to plan on Wednesday, ABIA Public Information Officer Bryce Dubee told Austonia.
"Spirit has had some ongoing operational issues and has seen a significant number of cancellations," Dubee said. "For them, it is significant."
The airline was joined by American Airlines with high cancellations rates. AA scrapped 300 flights by early afternoon Tuesday, but the high number only accounts for 9% of its schedule. By Wednesday afternoon, only 3% of flights were taken off the schedule.
Dubee said that American Airlines had only canceled one arrival to ABIA since Sunday and that the issues "don't seem to be ongoing." American Airlines said that at least three-fourths of cancellations were due, at least in part, to a lack of pilots, while others, namely at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, were weather-related.
Meanwhile, Spirit said in a statement that they would see cancellations start dropping on Thursday.
The airline, which saw 20% of its schedule canceled Sunday and 42% Monday, said that "overlapping operational challenges including weather, system outages and staffing shortages" caused issues in crew scheduling. Some of the cancellations were made proactively as they fought to reset the sinking ship.
The issue was exacerbated by peak summer travel crowds. While airports are seeing 80% of pre-pandemic peak travel levels, many airline and airport companies have significantly fewer on staff. Spirit's pilot union said in a tweet that staffing strikes were not the cause for the week's cancellations.
Spirit Airlines has recently been experiencing a series of operational struggles. These issues are not due to a pilot strike. Any such rumor or report is completely false. (1/2)
— Spirit ALPA MEC (@SpiritMEC_ALPA) August 2, 2021
Unlike other standard airlines, the "ultra-low-cost-carrier" doesn't have agreements when cancellations occur, meaning travelers can be left stranded. While Dubee said the cancellations have not caused anything more than general frustration for customers at ABIA, unconfirmed reports of riots in Puerto Rico and Florida rose to the surface in the wake of the cancellations.
When #spiritairlines leaves you stranded in Puerto Rico with no employees in sight and holds your luggage and money hostage.
We were stuck overnight with no clothes or essentials for our 3 or 1 year olds and are still without answers and searching for flights #Spirit #useless pic.twitter.com/jzKqf9Yuhn
— Tito Arias (@2touchTito) August 2, 2021
Spirit said that lines have already begun to decrease substantially as they work to make amends—including providing refunds and helping process meal and hotel vouchers—and reboot the network. The carrier also pointed out that they held the lowest percentage of cancellations in 2020 and would soon be able to bounce back from the meltdown.
In the meantime, Dubee said its best for Spirit customers traveling through ABIA to check with the airline itself for more assistance, refunds and cancellation information.
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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