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Buttigieg urges airline CEOs to make sure reliability this summer after waves of disruptions

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Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport after airlines announced quite a few flights were canceled in the course of the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Christmas Eve in Queens, Recent York, December 24, 2021.

Dieu-Nalio Chery | Reuters

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged airline CEOs on Thursday to make sure they’ll fly their schedules reliably this summer after an increase in delays and cancellations this yr, in line with an individual acquainted with the decision.

The secretary asked airlines what steps they were taking to be sure that disruptions that occurred over Memorial Day weren’t repeated during July 4 weekend and the remaining of the summer, the person said. Buttigieg also pushed airlines to enhance customer support in order that passengers can rebook quickly, the person said, describing the decision as “productive and collaborative.”

Airlines have struggled with routine disruptions reminiscent of weather alongside staffing shortfalls and a surge in travel demand. JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines have already scaled back their spring and summer travel schedules to present themselves more room to handle disruptions.

Greater than 7,100 U.S. flights were delayed and nearly 1,600 were canceled as multiple thunderstorms snarled travel to and from a number of the country’s busiest airports, in line with flight-tracking site FlightAware.

The Thursday meeting got here after Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) earlier this month wrote to U.S. airlines’ industry group, Airlines for America, pressing for more details about disruptions over Memorial Day weekend.

“We appreciated the chance to satisfy with Department of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to debate our shared commitment to prioritizing the security and security of all travelers as they reunite with friends, family and colleagues this summer,” Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, which represents large U.S. carriers, said in a press release.

Airline executives have occasionally placed blame on air traffic control.

The Federal Aviation Administration last month called carriers to Florida for a gathering about recent flight disruptions within the state, where flight hurdles include frequent thunderstorms, military exercises and space launches, in addition to a surge in demand.

The FAA, which participated in Thursday’s meeting, had said it might increase staffing at a key air traffic facility in Florida, amongst other measures.

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