Thousands of passengers were stranded over the Father’s Day and Juneteenth weekend after 14,000 flights were canceled or delayed.
There were more than 6.8 million passenger check-ins at TSA checkpoints at United States airports over the weekend.
On Sunday, FlightAware reported at least 246 flight delays at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — 146 of which were Delta routes.
Delta issued a statement at the beginning of the busy travel weekend, acknowledging a rise in travel demand, which the company attributes to people eager to reconnect with people around the world after the pandemic.
“This phase of our recovery has been the most difficult. We’ve never had to bring the airline back at this speed before,” said E.V.P. and Chief of Operations John Laughter. “Through this challenge, we continue to make decisions that allow us to run a good, safe operation while restoring our network, and to take care of our people and customers.”
In an interview with NBC News, Kit Darby, president at KitDarby.com Aviation Consulting, LLC, hinted that the Biden administration’s testing and vaccine mandates for airline employees may be a contributing factor to pilot and staffing shortages, saying that “airlines are struggling with booming demand coming out of the pandemic that has coincided with a wave of federally mandated pilot retirements.”
“These are excellent jobs, with a career value of $11 million,” he said. “It’s hard to believe we have a shortage for an $11 million career, but due to short sightedness … any solution is going to be three, four, five years away.”
Delta recently announced it will be cutting about 100 flights per day from July through early August.
The top five airports with the most delays and cancellations were Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Ft. Worth International, Denver International, and Newark Liberty.
American Airlines has announced it will be cutting routes to three cities due to a pilot shortage.
“In response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry, American Airlines has made the difficult decision to end service in Islip and Ithaca, N.Y., and Toledo, Ohio, effective Sept. 7,” American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Koos said in a statement. “We’re extremely grateful for the care and service our team members provided to our customers in Islip, Ithaca and Toledo, and are working closely with them during this time. We’ll proactively reach out to customers scheduled to travel after this date to offer alternate arrangements.”
The airline is also increasing pay for 14,000 pilots in a bid to stop attrition.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently met with airline executives to discuss what steps they can take to ease the burden on travelers.