HomeTravelsUnited and US FAA clash over blame for summer air travel problems

United and US FAA clash over blame for summer air travel problems

WASHINGTON, July 6 (Reuters) – The U.S. aviation system is expected to “remain struggling this summer and beyond” and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) needs more air traffic control personnel, a senior official said. responsible for United Airlines (UAL.O) on Wednesday.

The FAA responded to United on Wednesday, saying that on July 3-4 “there were no delays related to FAA personnel, but airlines still canceled more than 1,100 flights, a quarter of which were United Airlines flights.

Summer travelers face an increase in flight cancellations as demand increases and the industry tries to replenish the workforce after thousands of workers left during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“The reality is that there are just more flights scheduled in the industry than the (air traffic control) staffing system can handle,” United chief operating officer Jon Roitman said in a message. to staff seen by Reuters.

“Until this is resolved, we expect the U.S. aviation system to remain challenged this summer and beyond.”

The FAA said it “will continue to fulfill its responsibility to hold airlines accountable, while standing ready to cooperate as needed so that Americans can confidently expect safe, reliable service. and affordable every time they buy a plane ticket”.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who met with airline CEOs on summer travel issues on June 16, told CNBC on Tuesday that “air traffic control personnel issues do not explain the majority of delays and cancellations that we have experienced”.

US airlines have cut scheduled summer flights by around 15%, an airline trade group said last month, while United has temporarily halted 12% of departures from its sole Newark hub due to the congestion.

Over the four-day July 4 holiday weekend, 8.8 million passengers were screened through U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) checkpoints, exceeding 2020 and 2021 but around 12% lower than 2019 levels.

Roitman estimated that “more than 50% of our delay minutes and 75% of our cancellations over the past four months were due to FAA traffic management initiatives.”

He said United performed better than their main rivals over the holiday weekend, but added “we still have work to do to meet reliability and operational performance standards”.

Last month, an airline industry trade group said the FAA must ensure adequate air traffic control staffing to avoid further disruption to summer travel, saying a key center in Florida had been “understaffed for 27 of the past 30 days, crippling the entire East Coast traffic flow.” Read More

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Himani Sarkar and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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