Thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed in the US this week, as travel chaos threatens the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. The disruptions have been caused by a combination of factors, including staffing shortages, bad weather, and air traffic control issues.
According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, more than 43,000 flights were delayed and at least 8,000 flights have been cancelled since Saturday. The most affected airlines were United Airlines and Delta Air Lines among others.
There were more than a million passengers booked on those 8,000 cancelled flights, according to CNN.
U.S. Airports With the Most Cancellations
The cancellations and delays have been particularly severe at East Coast airports, such as New York’s LaGuardia and Newark airports.
Here’re the U.S. airports with the most flight cancellations this week:
|Airport||Scheduled Flights||% of Cancelled Flights||Cancelled Flights|
|Newark Liberty International||8321||11.24%||935|
|Chicago O’Hare International||14563||2.9%||423|
|John F Kennedy International||9543||4.03%||385|
|Boston Logan International||9087||3.41%||310|
|Houston Bush Intercontinental||8148||3.51%||286|
|Reagan National (VA)||5416||3.79%||205|
|San Francisco International||7622||2.55%||194|
Airlines With the Most Cancellations
United Airlines have been hit the hardest by this week’s flight disruptions in the US, followed by Delta Air Lines and their regional subsidiaries.
Here’re the airlines with the most flight cancellations this week:
|Airline||Scheduled Flights||% Cancelled Flights||Cancelled Flights|
Airlines With the Most Delays
The Big Four US Airlines lead the list of airlines with the most delays this week, followed by JetBlue and Spirit Airlines.
Here’re the airlines with the most flight delays this week:
|Airline||Scheduled Flights||Delayed Flights|
Who is to Blame?
Flight delays and cancellations increased heavily after thunderstorms battered parts of the US on Sunday evening, as reported by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. The powerful storms ripped through parts of the country, heavily on the East Coast, affecting hundreds of thousands of travellers this week.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledged that the summer season has been anticipated as a challenging period for the transportation system. He attributed the recent disruptions, delays, and even cancellations to the inclement weather conditions.
“FAA is continuing to work around the clock to find solutions, get creative and make sure the system is resilient as possible.”Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
However, United Airlines, which experienced the most delays and cancellations this week blamed a shortage of federal air traffic controllers for massive disruptions at its Newark hub.
“I’m frustrated that the FAA frankly failed us this weekend. As you know, the weather we saw in EWR is something that the FAA has historically been able to manage without a severe impact on our operation and customers,” United CEO Scott Kirby wrote in a memo to employees earlier this week.
He further said that the FAA had reduced arrival rates at Newark Liberty International Airport by 40% and the departure rates by 75% on Saturday.
“This is almost certainly a reflection of understaffing/lower experience at the FAA. It led to massive delays, cancellations, and diversions, as well as crews and aircraft out of position. And that put everyone behind the eight-ball when the weather did hit on Sunday and was further compounded by FAA staffing shortages Sunday evening.”United CEO Scott Kirby
However, when Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who oversees the FAA, appeared on CNN Primetime, he refuted the criticism directed at his agency.
“United Airlines has some internal issues they need to work through. They’ve really been struggling this week, even relative to other US airlines. I want to be very clear, air traffic control issues are not the number one issue causing cancellations and delays. They’re not even the number two issue. All the data, including the industry’s own data, is very clear on that,” said Pete Buttigieg.
JetBlue Joins United in Blaming the FAA
JetBlue has also blamed the FAA for the flight delays and cancellations over the week. The low-cost carrier said that the FAA is partly responsible for flight disruptions around some of the busiest airports, including New York and Denver.
“We are working with the FAA to better understand what led to the significant and unexpected ATC restrictions this week that affected thousands of flights across carriers. The severity and lengthy duration of the latest programs were worse than we have seen in the past with similar weather.”JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty
As of Friday, 30th June, flight cancellation and delay rates have gradually reduced and the FAA is expecting a gradual recovery over the next few days.
Cover Image: via CNN news