There were significant disruptions to air travel this week, with thousands of flights delayed or canceled because of severe weather.
As of Friday morning, approximately 911 flights were delayed and 257 flights were canceled, according to FlightAware, posing a challenging start to the holiday weekend, which is anticipated to witness record-breaking air travel.
But Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who oversees the Federal Aviation Administration, told Scripps News that with the exception of United Airlines, the system overall saw a 2% rate in cancellations on Friday, which is a rate he considers "pretty normal," and he says we should see a "more normal travel day."
Preliminary cancellation data from the Department of Transportation indicates that United Airlines has experienced the highest percentage of cancellations this week.
"United is working through a lot of problems, but they seem to be headed in the right direction, too. So today looks to be like a more normal travel day, which is good news," said Buttigieg. "Even when you factor in the issues United was having yesterday, the cancellation rate settled in at about 4%. We can see that continuing to go down; today will be normal territory."
Buttigieg mentioned that United Airlines cited two main reasons for the challenges they faced over the past weekend. First, severe weather conditions in the Midwest affected the airline's hubs, leading to difficulties in coordinating crews. Second, there were staffing concerns with air traffic control, which impacted operations.
"We're working with Congress right now to get more sources so that we can hire more air traffic controllers and get better technology. I want to be clear; this issue is not the main cause of delays and cancellations," said Buttigieg. "But it can be a factor, which is why it's so important for us to continue working with Congress to get those resources and to continue picking up the pace on hiring those personnel."
According to the American Automobile Association, 4.17 million Americans are projected to fly this weekend, with Friday being the busiest day at airports nationwide.
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