PALM SPRINGS – Blistering heat in Palm Springs and Phoenix forced American Airlines to cancel at least six flights scheduled today between the two desert cities.
American canceled more than four dozen flights in and out of Phoenix Monday due to operational concerns over extremely high temperatures. It wasn’t immediately clear how many of those flights were to or from Palm Springs.
At least one flight from Phoenix to Palm Springs made it out of the Arizona airport this morning, but as temperatures were expected to soar later in the day, three afternoon flights — at 1:30 p.m., 3:10 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. — were canceled. An evening flight set to depart at 6:50 p.m. remained on the schedule as of 1 p.m.
The morning flight was delayed more than an hour, but heat may not have played a role as a disabled aircraft was slowing operations at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Four of American’s flights to Phoenix from Palm Springs were canceled.
A high of 121 degrees was expected in Palm Springs this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, while a regional heat wave was not expected to die down until Thursday.
Whether temperatures in the Coachella Valley would lead to any other canceled flights was up to individual airlines, said Tom Nolan, the airport’s executive director.
“The airport is open and operational,” he told City News Service.
“Any delays are incumbent on the airlines.”
Nolan said travelers should contact their airlines before heading to the airport to confirm flight information.
American Airlines, which began notifying customers over the weekend of expected cancellations, said that travelers would have the option of rebooking their flights or receiving full refunds.
According to an American Airlines statement, the maximum operating temperature for certain smaller, regional aircraft was expected to be reached during the day, leading to the cancellations. Regional aircraft are used between Phoenix and Palm Springs.
Larger aircraft can operate at higher temperatures.
American spokesperson Ross Feinstein told the Washington Post that heat- related cancellations could be expected throughout the week.
He said each aircraft manufacturer sets it own maximum operating temperatures.
Only American had canceled flights in and out of Phoenix.
Nolan said only American flights were affected at Palm Springs airport.