Thousands of flights were abruptly cancelled over the Memorial Day weekend, leaving customers stranded. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has warned airline executives that they must act immediately to prevent a repeat of the travel catastrophe.
To hold airline and travel sector executives accountable for recent travel problems and to obtain guarantees that similar scenes wouldn’t become a regular feature of the summer, the Biden administration’s transport head convened the virtual meeting on Thursday.
“I let them know that this is a moment we are really counting on them to reliably deliver for the traveling public,” Buttigieg told NBC News following the meeting.
Reuters was informed by sources that Buttigieg had instructed airlines to “scrutinize” their ability to operate the flights they were actively marketing tickets for.
The outcome of the meeting may require American airlines to proactively cancel part of their summer flight plans in order to improve the reliability of the service they provide. Most people believe that airlines are trying to do too much to keep up with the increase in demand for air travel.
Because airlines have allowed little wiggle room, any external occurrences like bad weather or an air traffic control delay can swiftly snowball into a full-blown catastrophe, which is a recurrent problem for the industry.
Airlines are working hard to find additional employees, but White House officials worry that soon American travelers may face the same travel chaos as Europeans, where demand has recovered much more quickly than the rate at which staff can be added.
In order to increase system resilience, the British government has instructed regional airlines to reduce the number of flights available for purchase for the remainder of the summer. Additionally, passenger numbers are being artificially capped at several European airports, including Amsterdam Schiphol and London Gatwick.
The federal government must also play a role in preventing travel mayhem, according to the U.S. airline industry trade group Airlines 4 America, by ensuring that air traffic control delays are brought under control.
The FAA says it intends to increase the number of air traffic controllers in Florida to prevent a repeat of the issues that have repeatedly snowballed at the Jacksonville ATC center this year.