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Fourth of July Weekend Will Test Airlines Struggling to Bounce Back


Delays and cancellations have plagued air travel, and the Fourth of July weekend will be the biggest test yet for the airline industry, which has faced scrutiny from customers, regulators and investors.

The industry has not fully recovered from the depths of the pandemic. Airlines, desirous to cut costs and unsure concerning the way forward for travel, halted hiring and doled out early retirement packages.

Now, they’re scrambling, the DealBook newsletter reports. On Thursday, Robert Isom, the American Airlines chief executive, said the corporate had offered pilots pay raises totaling nearly 17 percent as a part of the fierce talent war.

Other airline executives have weighed in on staffing challenges. “Most airlines are simply not going to have the opportunity to comprehend their capability plans because there simply aren’t enough pilots, not less than not for the following five-plus years,” Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United Airlines, said in April.

Airlines are pinning the blame on the F.A.A., which they are saying is experiencing its own staffing shortages and pandemic-related absences.

“After we have a look at our operations this yr, versus three years ago,” Barry Biffle, the Frontier chief executive, told DealBook, “the No. 1 issue that has impacted our operations has been air traffic control.”

Airline representatives met with the F.A.A. on Thursday to debate travel disruptions.

No matter who’s at fault, passengers are mad. They lodged 3,173 complaints against U.S. airlines in April, in keeping with a recent Transportation Department report, over issues like refunds, delays and baggage. That’s nearly thrice as many complaints as were made a yr earlier.

Investors are also unhappy as they consider other challenges, like rising fuel prices. Shares of most major U.S. airlines are down about 30 percent this yr.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, is asking Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, to require airlines to pay fines of $15,000 per passenger for certain delays unrelated to weather. House Republicans want Mr. Buttigieg to elucidate the administration’s plans to deal with the flight mess.

Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, posted a note on Thursday that gave the impression to be an effort to get ahead of any holiday travel pain: “If you happen to’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize.”

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