Last week, Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg warned airlines that they faced federal government action—presumably including fines—over mounting flight cancellations and delays. While pilot shortages won't be quickly resolved, Buttigieg urged airlines to hire more customer service representatives to help customers rebook when things go wrong.
On Friday, the airline industry group Airlines for America (A4A) turned the tables, saying the Federal Aviation Administration's own understaffing is "crippling" East Coast air traffic. The group's members include American Airlines, Delta, United, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines as well as shippers FedEx and UPS.
"One of our A4A member carriers estimates that air traffic control (ATC) related issues were a factor in at least one-third of recent cancellations," the letter said. The group asked Buttigieg to arrange a meeting in which the FAA would share its controller staffing plan for the July 4th weekend and the rest of the summer travel season.