Travelers were subjected to a new wave of air chaos across the United States on Sunday, with around 1,000 flights cancelled. The toll added to about 14,000 flights within, from or to the United States that were canceled or delayed on Friday and Saturday.
Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta was one of the hardest hit airports – the facility saw passengers stranded over the weekend as Delta canceled or changed dozens of scheduled flights.
Delta previously blamed the delays and cancellations on increased sick calls due to Covid-19, bad weather and vendor staffing. Last week it announced it planned to cancel 100 flights a day in July and August to avoid summer travel disruption.
“Various factors continue to impact our operations, including air traffic control issues, weather conditions and unplanned absences from certain workgroups,” a Delta spokesperson said Saturday.
The Atlanta-based carrier was one of the hardest hit during the recent wave of disruptions. It canceled 700 flights out of 2,400 collectively canceled flights over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which was the highest number of any US airline over the weekend.
Among the airports with the highest number of cancellations are American Airlines hub Charlotte Douglas in North Carolina; LaGuardia and Newark Liberty in the New York area; and the Reagan Washington National in Washington DC.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg met virtually with several major airline CEOs last week to discuss challenges facing the industry and to urge airline executives to improve service ahead of the July 4 holiday.
“Air travelers should be able to expect reliable service as demand returns to levels not seen since before the pandemic,” Buttigieg said. tweeted friday. A day after the conference call, Buttigieg’s own internal flight was canceled and he ended up driving from Washington to New York.
“It happens to a lot of people, and that’s exactly why we’re paying close attention to what can be done and how to make sure the airlines deliver,” he told The Associated Press in an interview. Saturday.
Buttigieg said his department is considering sanctioning airlines if they fail to meet consumer protection standards. During the meeting, airline executives said they were taking steps to avoid a repeat of Memorial Day travel issues.
“Now we’ll see how those steps measure up,” Buttigieg said.
The pressure on airlines to improve their performance comes as demand for air travel has rebounded strongly. About 2.4 million people passed through TSA security checkpoints at US airports on Friday, near a pandemic-era high recorded over Thanksgiving.
As weather is seen as the biggest disruptor to summer travel, the airline industry is scrambling to hire or rehire pilots, cabin crew and airport staff laid off or pressured to quit during the pandemic .
Shortages at the Federal Aviation Administration — which falls under Buttigieg’s department — have contributed to flight delays, particularly in Florida. The Transportation Security Administration has created a roving force of 1,000 screening officers who can be dispatched to airports when screening lines get too long.