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Flight Cancellations, Delays On The Rise In US

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The U.S. air travel industry is going through its worst crisis since the troubled travel time during the peek pandemic struggles, with thousands of flights across the country being cancelled or getting delayed.

The aviation crisis, as millions are preparing to travel during the upcoming July 4th holiday weekend, is mainly attributed to the staffing issues at airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA, which manages the nation's airspace, as well as bad weather conditions, and increasing covid-19 cases among airline staff.

The issues are similar in Europe and other regions as travel demand was returning to its peak during the summer 2022 travel season, following two years of pandemic restrictions that caused airlines to report billions of losses due to worst demand.

According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, at least 730 flights were canceled across the country on Sunday. Among major airlines, Delta Air Lines canceled at least 224 flights on Sunday, while United Airlines canceled 71 flights and American Airlines canceled 66 flights.

The cancellations on Saturday were 634 flights, including United Airlines' 56 flights, while Friday's cancellations were 711 flights. United reportedly had said last week that it would cut 12% of its daily domestic flights from its busy Newark hub, representing about 50 daily flights, starting in July.

CNN reported citing an Delta Air Lines spokesperson that compounding factors such as higher-than-planned unscheduled absences in some work groups, weather, and air traffic control constraints are also among the issues.

According to reports, Airlines for America, which represents the largest U.S. carriers, last week sought information about FAA's staffing plans for the July Fourth holiday weekend, in order to plan their operations accordingly.

The FAA as well as airlines are facing severe shortage of staff, and are rebuilding their structure for smooth operations amid the significant growth in travelers after the COVID-19 protocols were dispensed with recently.

During the pandemic travel restriction period, hundreds of thousands of aviation workers with years of experience across the world were laid off or terminated to tackle the worst demand.

Meanwhile, the FAA last week issued a notice inviting applications to hire the next generation of air traffic controllers. According to the agency, controllers will be handling an average of 45,000 flights a day and more than 5,000 aircraft traversing the skies at once during peak times.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently also urged airlines to hire more staff ahead of July Fourth holiday weekend, and threatened to punish carriers that fail to meet consumer-protection standards.

Earlier, during the Memorial Day holiday, which marks the traditional start of the summer travel season, U.S. Airlines had canceled more than 2,700 flights in a five-day stretch and thousands got delayed mainly due to thunderstorms in certain areas, along with air traffic control issues and increasing COVID-19 cases.

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