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Holiday travel adds pressure on struggling industry as more US flights are canceled | Air industry

The confluence of two holidays, Father’s Day and June 19, and a season of “revenge travel” continued to put pressure on the already strained airline industry as 4,200 additional US flights were delayed and 900 canceled on Sunday, pushing the total number of flights interrupted since Thursday to 19,000.

Delta was the hardest hit, with 6% of its total Sunday flights canceled. Another 200 flights were canceled early Monday.

Travel conditions were blamed on lack of pilots and personnel, crowded planes and the logistical effects of bad weather. The airports with the most disruptions include Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta and JFK and LaGuardia in New York.

According to the TSA, Friday was the busiest day for air travel this year, with more than 2.4 million people going through security. Saturday was down slightly with 2.1 million travellers.

On Saturday, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he had called on airlines to “test the stress” of their summer schedules and add more customer service workers to handle the extra demand. Some airlines, including Delta, have already reduced their flights.

Buttigieg added that enforcement action could be taken against airlines that fail to meet consumer protection standards.

“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 said.

After two years of pandemic-related travel cancellations and delays, the US Travel Association said 85% of Americans plan to travel this summer.

Earlier this year, Expedia CEO Peter Kern told Bloomberg that the travel industry “has been talking about pent-up demand for a long time, but so far there have been too many restrictions in place for people are overdoing it with it.”

The shortage of pilots compounds the problems facing travelers. The United States is expected to lose about half of its retired pilots over the next 15 years, according to ABC News. Replacing them is not easy, as airlines also face a shortage of instructors.

Ahead of an International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting in Doha, Qatar, director Willie Walsh said on Sunday that although most carriers are enjoying bumper sales, there are doubts about the duration of the outbreak.

High fuel prices are likely to push fares even higher, even if travelers’ budgets are tight.

“Some people may not be able to afford to travel anymore,” Walsh said. “Airlines do not have the capacity to absorb this additional cost, especially given the financial damage caused by two years of closure.”

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