Flight confusion Severe storms and staffing issues had a rocky start to the summer, but it picked up steam on Tuesday.
More than 6,400 U.S. flights were delayed as of Tuesday night, and another 1,800 more, as thunderstorms that derailed thousands of flights over the weekend remained in heavily congested airspace on clear days, according to FlightAware data. Flight was canceled. This was followed by more than 8,800 delays and 2,246 cancellations in the US on Monday.
The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended flights to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. At these airports, delays averaged more than three hours. The FAA said the thunderstorm had blocked the route to and from the plane.
The disruption comes ahead of the Fourth of July holiday season, when millions of people are expected to fly. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it could test more travelers than it did in 2019 before the pandemic. Competition for spare seats intensifies.
The Biden administration is pressuring airlines to improve their operations. Widespread flight disruption Last spring and summer, airlines cut schedules that were too ambitious. But the industry struggled to recover from a string of thunderstorms last weekend that lasted for days.
Thunderstorms are difficult for airlines because they can occur with less warning than other major weather disturbances such as winter storms and hurricanes. Planned delays could cause crews to hit federally mandated work day limits, further exacerbating the disruption.
About 30,000 flights have been delayed since Saturday, with the rate of cancellations from Saturday to Monday more than three times the annual average, according to FlightAware data.
Some airline executives have blamed a shortage of air traffic controllers for some of the confusion.
united airlines “The FAA frankly let us down this weekend,” Chief Executive Scott Kirby told staff on Monday. He said during Saturday’s storm, the FAA cut arrival rates by 40% and departure rates by 75% at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, one of the airline’s largest hubs.
In a staff note reviewed by CNBC, Kirby wrote that it “resulted in massive delays, cancellations, diversions and even misalignment of crew and aircraft.” “And when the weather actually turned bad on Sunday, everyone ended up in favor of the 8-ball, but the FAA staffing shortage worsened on Sunday evening.”
“We will always work with anyone who is serious about helping us solve the problem,” an FAA spokeswoman said in a statement.
Staffing challenges are nothing new.of COVID-19 Pandemic Recruiting and training new air traffic controllers has stalled, and air traffic control is now trying to catch up.
This was announced by the Office of the Inspector General of the Ministry of Transport. report Last week, it was announced that air traffic operations were in jeopardy due to a shortage of air traffic control personnel. In March, the FAA and some airlines reduce flights To ease congestion at a busy New York airport due to staffing issues.
But as airlines prepare their crews and schedules for the busy summer season, fueled by sustained travel demand, problems persist.
And the chaos irritated the flight crew who had to wait to be reassigned.
The Flight Attendants Association (CWA), which represents flight attendants from United Airlines and others, said in a memo to members on Monday that wait times for crew scheduling exceeded three hours.
“There is absolute recognition that union leadership and on-board management must do something to permanently address these adverse conditions resulting from irregular operations,” the union said.
In response to the union’s memo, United Airlines said it “complemented call volume with all available resources, including increased staffing in crew scheduling and mandatory overtime for the scheduling team.”
based in new york jetblue airlines The airline has also faced significant flight delays over the past few days and acknowledged in a memo to crews seen Monday by CNBC that it could improve how it handles disruptions.
Don Usselmann, JetBlue’s vice president of in-flight experience, said airlines would be able to update crew reporting times more efficiently, allowing crews to avoid waiting for flights and reducing wait times for hotel assignments. rice field.
“The peak of summer is in full swing and extreme weather, air traffic controller staffing constraints and associated delays will put all airlines to the test,” he said in the memo. Stated. “This weekend’s [irregular operation] This is not the last time, but a combination of events put a lot of pressure on the operation and made it more difficult than ever. “