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Airlines, FAA spar ahead of busy Fourth of July travel weekend

Jun 29, 2022

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As Americans get set to celebrate the Fourth of July, a rivalry between airlines and the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is brewing ahead of what is expected to be a tough travel weekend. On Tuesday, Delta warned of another round of disruptions were possible. The airline has already announced flight cuts that will last throughout a large chunk of the summer.

“The global airline is issuing a systemwide fare difference travel waiver for July 1-4, which allows customers to rebook their trip to before or after potentially challenging weekend travel days,” Delta said Tuesday. “Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta’s operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the ripple effect of disruptions. Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend.”

Delta has canceled about 5% of its scheduled flights in the past two weeks due to staffing, weather and air traffic control issues. However, the cancellation issue as a whole is much more widespread.

U.S. airlines have canceled more than 21,000 flights since Memorial Day weekend. That’s about 2.7% of the scheduled flight total. Last Friday, it appeared airlines were attempting to shift the blame for cancellations onto the FAA ahead of the Fourth of July.

“The industry is actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business,” Nicholas Calio, president of the trade group Airlines for America, said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The group added that FAA understaffing is “crippling” air traffic and asked for the FAA’s staffing plans for the Fourth of July weekend “so we can plan accordingly.” The FAA fired back, citing the aid airlines received during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People expect when they buy an airline ticket that they’ll get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably,” the FAA said in a statement. “After receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help save the airlines from mass layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to have their expectations met.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) revealed he also sent Buttigieg a letter asking him “to fine airlines $55,000 per passenger for every flight cancellation they know can’t be fully staffed.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Shannon Longworth: You’re probably gearing up for the 4th of July weekend.
And with all the cookouts and fireworks – there’ll likely also be plenty of cancellations for those planning to fly.
Delta Air Lines just recently issued another warning of potential disruptions for the upcoming weekend.
Delta has canceled about five percent of its scheduled flights in the past two weeks due to staffing, weather and air traffic control issues.
And they’re not the only major airline scrambling.
*U-S* airlines have canceled more than 21-thousand flights since Memorial Day weekend.
Now, it appears the companies are blaming the F-A-A.
In a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — a trade group advocating for airlines said it wants to know the F-A-A’s staffing plans for the weekend quote “so we can plan accordingly.”
The group says F-A-A understaffing is crippling air traffic.
Even lawmakers are now calling for stiffer penalties.
Senator Bernie Sanders wrote to Buttigieg today demanding airlines be fined 55-thousand dollars per passenger for every flight cancellation caused by staffing issues.


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