Air travel in the United States is hampered by staff shortages and bad weather

Schools across the United States are open for summer vacation, many Americans have waited years to finally resume travel, now airlines are facing a severe shortage of pilots and crew, and of course , bad weather is coming. All of this has created a perfect storm for the kind of spiraling dominoes of flight delays and cancellations that have been happening in recent days.

Airlines on Thursday canceled more than 1,500 flights across the country and more than a third of all flights departing from LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty Airport, according to FlightAware.com. These cancellations and delays extended into Friday – more than 20% of outgoing flights were canceled or delayed.

Delta Air Lines pilots have written an open letter to customers detailing the industry’s pilot shortage, which has caused them to work more overtime this year than in 2018 and 2019 combined.

However, Delta, which canceled the most flights on the Memorial Day stretch, said it hired more pilots and flight attendants and scheduled crews to adjust to weather disruptions more quickly.

“All of our employees, including our pilots, are working hard to restore our airline and deliver to our customers as we emerge from the pandemic. We are grateful and proud of their efforts,” Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant said. , in a statement emailed to FOX 5 NY. “We are constantly evaluating our staffing models and planning ahead so that we can recover quickly when unforeseen circumstances arise, and the resilience of Delta’s staff is unmatched in this regard. Pilot schedules remain consistent with all requirements set by the FAA as well as those outlined in our pilot contract.”

On Thursday, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg held a virtual meeting with airline CEOs to review the steps airlines are taking to operate smoothly during the July 4 holiday and the rest of the summer. He also pushed airlines to improve how they help and accommodate stranded passengers when flights are cancelled.

So far in June, more than 2.2 million travelers per day on average have passed through security checkpoints at US airports, which is about 22% more than the same period in 2021, but still down about 13% from the same period before the pandemic.

Prior to Memorial Day, the Transportation Security Administration began recruit more airport security guards to handle the growing volume of travel. The TSA predicted passenger volumes this summer could “match and at times exceed those of 2019 for the first time since the pandemic began,” the agency said.

“Our airport security checkpoints include 47,500 highly trained security professionals and new technologies that improve security and reduce physical contact,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. said in a press release in May. “We continue to recruit, retain, train and equip a highly skilled workforce, and we continuously work with our airport and airline partners to anticipate and prepare for higher traffic patterns.”

With FOX 5 NY’s Mac King and The Associated Press.