The CEO of United Airlines is blaming the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a series of travel disruptions last weekend.
According to Reuters.comUnited CEO Scott Kirby told airline employees that FAA “staffing and inexperience” problems have led to thousands of delays and cancellations at Newark Liberty International Airport, l one of the carrier’s busiest hubs.
Due to storms that continued through the weekend into the start of the work week, airlines were forced to cancel more than 5,400 domestic flights since Saturday. In a letter to employees, Kirby blamed the problems on the FAA.
“As you know, the weather conditions we have seen at EWR are something the FAA has historically been able to manage without serious impact to our operations and customers,” Kirby said. “Last Saturday, however, was different.”
“The FAA has reduced arrival rates by 40 percent and departure rates by 75 percent,” Kirby continued. “This almost certainly reflects understaffing/less experience at the FAA. This led to massive delays, cancellations, diversions, and crews and aircraft out of position.
FAA officials admitted they were forced to “suspend” departures to the Washington, D.C., area due to a computer outage at an air traffic control facility in the area. These issues caused delays and cancellations across the Northeast, exacerbated by bad weather that began Sunday.
In response, an FAA spokesperson said the government agency would be willing to “work with anyone who is seriously willing to join us in resolving an issue.”
Last year, Kirby and other airline executives said the FAA was still part of the problem with delays and cancellations. The CEO also told a global aerospace summit that the government agency needed more air traffic controllers.
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