Flight cancellations soared on Sunday, as travel plans for the Fourth of July weekend drew to a close – as airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration disputed who is to blame.
As of Sunday afternoon, at least 671 flights in or out of the US were canceled, according to tracking website Flight Aware. Delta had canceled 204 flights as of 2:30 p.m. EST and Southwest Airlines had canceled more than 100 flights.
At Baltimore/Washington International Airport, which has a hub at Southwest, 10% of all flights on Sunday were canceled. About 4% percent of flights from LaGuardia Airport were also nixed.
According to the American Automobile Association, an estimated 3.5 million Americans are expected to travel by plane during the upcoming holiday weekend, one of the busiest weekends of the year.
The nonprofit group said a record 42 million Americans are expected to take road trips for the Fourth of July, due to the recent chaos at airports, despite rising gas prices.
Earlier this month air travel was disrupted by thousands of flight delays and cancellations over the busy Juneteenth and Father’s Day weekend.
Similar troubles disrupted air traffic over Memorial Day weekend and over the winter holidays.
To make matters worse, the average plane ticket price is currently $201, up 14% from last year, AAA said.
The higher prices come as the FAA and major US airlines are pointing fingers at each other over the ongoing travel chaos.
Airlines said they are grappling with a shortage of pilots, flight attendants and other key staff following a wave of layoffs and resignations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airlines for America, which represents heavyweights such as Delta, United and Southwest, also said delays and cancellations are partly because of a lack of FAA air traffic controllers.
But the FAA denied there was a shortage of air traffic controllers and cast doubt on claims of an airline staffing crisis.
According to CNBC, the agency said, “People expect that when they buy an airline ticket they will get where they need to go safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably.” “After receiving $54 billion in pandemic relief to help avoid massive layoffs and bankruptcy, the American people deserve to live up to their expectations.”