More flight cancellations plagued LaGuardia Airport on Friday morning — after a disastrous 24 hours when over one-third of all flights set to depart the New York City hub were scrapped.
There were 15% of flights out of LaGuardia canceled as of Friday morning, and an additional 6% were delayed, according to data from the flight-tracking site FlightAware.com.
Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey also was reporting significant cancellations, with 11% of all flights set to depart Friday being axed.
Nationwide, FlightAware is reporting more than 1,000 cancellations within, into and out of the US.
The avalanche of cancellations and delays comes as kids are starting their summer breaks and families are plotting their long-awaited vacations, which many have put off for more than two years because of COVID.
And Americans’ pent-up wanderlust is only going to increase, with data analyzed by the travel insurance company Allianz Partners suggesting that trips to Europe will soar 600% compared to last year, reported NPR.
At least some of the cancellations Friday were due in part to inclement weather in many sections of the country, with rain and thunderstorms expected on the East Coast, in much of the South, in several Western states and the Pacific Northwest.
But according to airline industry experts, a more systemic problem, namely a dire shortage of pilots, is to blame for much of Americans’ long-term travel woes.
During a five-day period around Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally opens the travel season in the US, 2,800 flights were canceled nationwide.
Unions representing pilots at Delta, American and Southwest Airlines complained that the companies have been dragging their feet when it comes to hiring additional pilots to meet the rapidly growing demand as travel begins to ramp up again.
Industry insiders have even coined a new term — “revenge travel” — to describe Americans’ aggressive determination to make up for all the trips they were forced to skip during the pandemic.
On Thursday, leading airline CEOs met with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to discuss some of the challenges facing their industry, including overburdened airports and widespread customer dissatisfaction.
“I let them know that this is a moment when we are really counting on them to deliver reliably for the traveling public,” Buttigieg told NBC News.
Buttigieg presented the CEOs with a wish list for this summer, which included smooth travel over the July 4 holiday, a commitment to stick to published flight schedules, and improved customer service.