The summer travel season is off to a rocky start for America’s largest air carriers. Over the five-day Memorial Day weekend, more than 2,800 flights were canceled for one reason or another, with severe weather playing only a small part.
More than one-third of all flights at LaGuardia Airport and over a quarter of flights at Newark Airport were canceled Thursday in one of the worst travel days yet this summer. The problem is partially attributed to a lack of pilots. Retirements and losses during the pandemic have yet to be filled.
And the staffing shortage isn’t limited to pilots. Flight crews, ground personnel, airport security people — all are in short supply.
Unions representing pilots at Delta, American and Southwest Airlines said the companies have been too slow to replace pilots who retired or took leaves of absence during the pandemic.
Airlines have also placed the blame on poor weather conditions and the Federal Aviation Administration, which manages the country’s airspace and air-traffic control centers, which are also struggling with staffing issues.
Thursday’s cancellations happened as airline CEOs met with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a virtual meeting to discuss concerns over airport bottle-necks and frustrated travelers this summer. – READ MORE