The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is facing criticism as thousands of U.S. flights face cancellations or delays.
Fox Business reported that over 1,500 cancellations and delays had already been documented early Wednesday morning. Tracker Flight Aware documented 1,153 total cancellations. With 315 cancellations and 100 delays Wednesday, United Airlines suffered the worst out of all flight companies.
According to ABC News, well over 5,000 flights have been cancelled since Saturday.
Following weekend travel disruptions at Newark Airport in New Jersey, one of the main hubs for United Airlines, Scott Kirby, United Airlines CEO, addressed the situation in a letter to the company’s employees on Monday.
“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,” he wrote. “This past Saturday, however, was different.”
The weather situation that Kirby mentioned to staff members was compounded with a technology issue at one of the critical air traffic control facilities on Sunday, causing the Federal Aviation Administration to pause flight operations in the region around Washington, D.C.
Kirby claimed the FAA “frankly failed this weekend,” adding that weather near New York City and New Jersey is “something that the FAA has historically been able to manage without a severe impact on our operation and customers.”
According to Fox Business, Kirby noted that the FAA reduced arrival rates by 40% and departure rates by 75% at Newark Liberty International Airport over the weekend.
“This is almost certainly a reflection of understaffing/lower experience at the FAA,” Kirby stated. “It led to massive delays, cancelations, diversions, as well as crews and aircraft out of position. And that put everyone behind the eight-ball when weather did hit on Sunday and was further compounded by FAA staffing shortages Sunday evening.”
While the United Airlines CEO said the FAA’s staffing issue is “not fault” of its current leadership since the problem has “been building up for a long time,” he noted that over 150,000 United Airlines customers in the New York City region were impacted due to the issue over the weekend. He told staff members that he intends to discuss potential actions to prevent additional cancellations and delays over the summer months with the FAA.
Despite the ongoing cancellation and delay challenges persisting throughout this week, the FAA reported no “staffing triggers” on the East Coast for Monday and Tuesday. The FAA also released a statement regarding recent criticism, saying, “We will always collaborate with anyone seriously willing to join us to solve a problem.”