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Holiday weekend sees massive amount of flight cancellations

Delta Airlines passenger jets are pictured outside the newly completed 1.3 million-square foot $4 billion Delta Airlines Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport in New York, June 1, 2022.
Mike Segar | Reuters

Thousands of flights wound up cancelled and delayed during the Juneteenth and Father’s Day holiday weekend, which included the busiest air travel day of the year on Friday, according to the TSA.

More than 2.4 million people traveled through TSA checkpoints on Friday, according to the agency. The same day, airlines had cancelled more than 1,100 flights by early afternoon, following more than 1,700 cancellations on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

More than 6,300 flights were delayed within, into or leaving the U.S. on Saturday, and 859 flights were cancelled, according to the flight tracking platform FlightAware.

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As of Sunday morning, more than 1,000 flights within, into or leaving the U.S. had been delayed and more than 700 flights had been cancelled, according to FlightAware. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport had the most delays and cancellations on Sunday.

Some 2,700 flights were cancelled over Memorial Day weekend.

Faced with staffing shortages, and a pilot shortage in particular, many airlines have already cancelled thousands of flights for the summer season, including Southwest Airlines, which cut nearly 20,000 summer flights, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News.

Delta is cancelling 100 daily departures from destinations in the U.S. and Latin America, affecting travel from July 1 to August 7. The airline company published an open letter to customers on Thursday acknowledging both the labor shortage and customers’ frustrations with cancelled and delayed flights.

The Juneteenth weekend’s travel disruptions followed a meeting that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had with airline CEOs late Thursday to discuss how to improve their operations.

In an interview on Saturday with the Associated Press, Buttigieg said his own flight from Washington to New York had been cancelled on Friday, leading him to drive instead, and that he was pushing airline leaders to ensure they could fulfill their planned summer flights with the staffs they have.

Buttigieg added that the Department of Transportation could take enforcement actions against airlines but cautioned that he wanted to wait to see how airline travel during the July Fourth weekend and the rest of the summer season unfolded first.

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