Airlines To Cut Flights Because of Shortage of Air-Traffic Controllers

Airlines To Cut Flights Because of Shortage of Air-Traffic Controllers

JetBlue Airways is preparing to trim New York flights during the impending summer travel season. The move comes after federal regulators urged carriers to reduce schedules by up to 10% at some of the nation’s busiest airports due to a crisis in air-traffic controllers.

During a discussion at the Economic Club of New York in New York City, Hayes said staffing at the air traffic control center that handles all inbound, outbound and through traffic across New York airspace is only at 54% of what is needed. That is compared to the national average of 81%, Hayes continued. But the shortage in New York has an outsized impact on the overall U.S. aviation system. 

JetBlue has added employees and is “good to go” for the uptick in traffic, Hayes said. He said that congestion would be 45% worse than last summer without cuts across the industry, citing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are also preparing to trim flights this summer to reduce congestion and delays.

Domestic travel had seen a quick rebound from the height of the Covid-19 pandemic but is yet to restore industry capacity fully. On Wednesday, the FAA met with airlines, private-plane operators, and the air-traffic controllers’ union to discuss how to restrict flight congestion. Carriers have until April 30 to identify what flight slots or times they will temporarily give up at airports in Washington and the New York area.

The FAA held similar conversations last year about busy airspace in Florida, and boosted staffing there to handle a surge in traffic.

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