Just a day after airline executives met with US transportation officials on how to stem flight disruptions, a band of storms triggered thousands of cancellations and delays for beleaguered carriers.
More than 6,000 flights were late or scrubbed altogether as of 4:25 p.m. ET Friday, according to tracking website FlightAware. That comes on top of more than 1,700 cancellations and another 8,800 delays in the US on Thursday, FlightAware said.
A line of storms stretched from Mississippi to Virginia, gumming up flights at large hubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington, D.C. and New York. At the same time, airline staffing woes as carriers rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic have made it more difficult to respond to bad weather, leaving carriers with fewer reserve crews.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had a conference call with airline chiefs on Thursday, reminding them of the need to do all they can to reduce impacts from delays, said a government official familiar with the discussion who asked not to be identified.
The Federal Aviation Administration is trying to add air-traffic controllers at facilities that have seen the biggest traffic increases, such as its control center in Jacksonville, Florida. Most airports in Florida are reporting an increase in flights compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to FAA.
“Like almost every industry across the economy, airlines are adapting to labor shortages, supply chain dynamics and other pandemic related challenges,” trade group Airlines for America wrote in a letter to US lawmakers dated June 10.
Overall passenger totals remain about 12% below 2019, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
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