United CEO Voices Optimism on Future of Travel

United CEO Admonishes FAA | TravelPulse

Airline executives, including United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, say the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) remains part of the problem when it comes to delays and cancellations.

At the Global Aerospace Summit, Kirby said the government agency needs more air traffic controllers – a sentiment that has been reiterated throughout the summer of chaos in the aviation industry.


“When you have air traffic control close a center down or close a region of the country, it leads to hundreds of delays and cancellations and there’s just nothing else – there’s no other rocks that are anywhere close to the size of that,” CEO Scott Kirby told CNN’s Pete Muntean at the conference.

Obviously, the pandemic had a big effect on staffing through the industry, including the FAA, but Kirby isn’t all in on blaming the virus.

“It was tight before the pandemic and they don’t have enough people today and they need more,” Kirby said. “And we in aviation have to commit to helping them get that.”

According to CNN, 57,000 flights have been canceled in the U.S. this year, and more than half-a-million – 638,000 to be exact – have been delayed. It has led to frustrations among passengers, workers, pilots, Congressional lawmakers, and the FAA.

“Airlines should focus on restoring customers’ faith by being transparent about the cause of interruptions and by delivering what they promise,” FAA spokesman Matt Lehner said in a statement responding to Kirby’s comments. The FAA also said delays caused by airlines are up while delays attributed to the FAA are down.

“I think if we work together on this, we can certainly make the holidays better,” Kirby said.

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