More flight cancellations hit LaGuardia Airport on Friday morning – after a disastrous 24 hours when more than a third of all flights scheduled to leave the New York hub were abandoned.
As of Friday morning, 15% of flights out of LaGuardia were canceled and another 6% were delayed, according to data from flight tracking site FlightAware.com.
Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey was also reporting large cancellations, with 11% of all flights scheduled to depart Friday being axed.
Nationally, FlightAware reports over 1,000 cancellations inside, inside and outside the United States.
The flurry of cancellations and delays comes as children begin their summer vacations and families plan their long-awaited vacations, which many have postponed for more than two years due to COVID.
And Americans’ pent-up wanderlust will only increase, with data analyzed by travel insurance company Allianz Partners suggesting travel to Europe will increase 600% from last year, NPR reported.
At least some of Friday’s cancellations were due in part to poor weather in many parts of the country, with rain and thunderstorms expected on the East Coast, much of the South, several western states and the Pacific Northwest.
But airline industry experts say a more systemic problem, namely a severe shortage of pilots, is at the root of much of Americans’ long-term travel problems.
In a five-day period around Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally opens the US travel season, 2,800 flights were canceled nationwide.
Unions representing pilots at Delta, American and Southwest Airlines have complained that companies are dragging their feet when it comes to hiring additional pilots to meet growing demand as travel begins to increase again.
Industry insiders have even coined a new term – “revenge travel” – to describe Americans’ aggressive determination to make up for all the travel they’ve been forced to skip during the pandemic.
Top airline CEOs met with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday to discuss some of the challenges facing their industry, including overcrowded airports and widespread customer dissatisfaction.
“I’m letting them know this is a time when we really rely on them to reliably deliver to the traveling public,” Buttigieg told NBC News.
Buttigieg presented CEOs with a wish list for this summer, which included seamless travel during the July 4 holiday, a commitment to stick to published flight schedules and improved customer service.