A miserable travel experience could be in store for many this holiday weekend as over 3.5 million people plan to fly domestically at a time when air travel infrastructure is already stretched beyond its limit.
The Fourth of July weekend is poised to be the second busiest for travel since 2000, Axios reported. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and major airlines are working to prevent a repeat of what happened over Memorial Day weekend, where increased stress on understaffed air travel infrastructure resulted in the cancellation of 2,700 flights in a five-day span, according to CBS News.
Already this week Philadelphia International Airport has seen 180 delayed flights and 27 cancellations, while Richmond International Airport had 218 flights cancelled in June for a cancellation rate of 5%, reported Axios.
Airlines are predicting further “operational” challenges from the added stress, Axios reported. Many, like Delta, are issuing waivers for customers to change their flights on the busiest travel days of the weekend free of charge.
The FAA and the airline industry have each blamed the other for cancellations and delays that have increased throughout June, The Hill reported.
In a letter sent to Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on June 24, president of trade group Airlines for America suggested that FAA understaffing at air traffic control towers have caused delays even in “blue sky conditions.” Industry leaders have specifically cited New York and Jacksonville as key bottlenecks, according to The Hill.
The FAA, consumer groups and the Biden administration have pointed out that as travel has rebounded after the pandemic, airlines themselves haven’t been able to expand operations to keep up with demand and are still understaffed in virtually all departments when compared to pre-pandemic levels, The Hill reported.
Ready for the 4th of July? The FAA is. We are working around the clock to get you to your destination safely and efficiently. Learn more at https://t.co/SUb5J5ba38. ✈️ #July4th #travel pic.twitter.com/bplYbYhmOD
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) June 30, 2022
“People expect when they buy an airline ticket that they’ll get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably. 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,” the FAA said in a statement shared with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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