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Delta CEO urges Washington to extend FAA funding after ‘unacceptable’ outage

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Ed Bastian, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines Inc., during an interview in Recent York, US, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. Bastian said that he sees ‘strong demand’ for flights carrying into 2023. 

Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian called on Washington to extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration after an outage of a pilot alert system that grounded 1000’s of flights across the U.S. this week.

The FAA halted U.S. flight departures on Wednesday morning after it reset the Notice to Air Missions system, which had failed from a corrupted data file. Greater than 10,000 flights were delayed or canceled that day as consequently.

“Over the past 36 hours, the FAA has been conducting a preliminary evaluation into the NOTAM system interruption,” the FAA said late Thursday. “The agency determined that a knowledge file was damaged by personnel who didn’t follow procedures.”

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday, Delta’s Bastian called the incident “unacceptable.”

“It was a difficult day on Wednesday for our customers as well or our own employees. And candidly, it’s unacceptable” he said. “I do not recall us ever shutting down the national air space attributable to an identical kind of technology outage for several hours.”

But, he said, the problem “shouldn’t be the FAA’s fault.”

“I lay this on the incontrovertible fact that we will not be giving them the resources, the funding, the staffing, the tools, the technology they need,” he said. “Hopefully this shall be the decision to our political leaders in Washington that we want to do higher.”

Lawmakers from each side of the aisle expressed frustration with the outage and resulting travel chaos. Congressional hearings are prone to follow.

The flight delays and cancellations were the second major air travel disruption in lower than a month after bad weather derailed holiday travel late last yr. Southwest Airlines struggled to get well and ended up slashing its schedule, a meltdown that also drew scrutiny from lawmakers and the Biden administration.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has called for a hearing on the disruptions.

Delta on Friday reported fourth-quarter results that topped analysts’ expectations, but warned higher costs would proceed to dent profit.

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