Written by 1:35 am Travel Views: [tptn_views]

JetBlue to trim New York flights due to FAA staffing shortages

JetBlue Airways Corp plane prepares to land at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

JetBlue Airways is preparing to chop weekly flights within the New York area this spring and summer in response to a shortage of air traffic controllers, which could have a financial impact on the airline, CEO Robin Hayes told CNBC Wednesday.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled a latest plan to assist avoid a repeat of the 2022 flight disruptions by reducing flight requirements by as much as 10% for airline take-off and landing rights to avoid congestion within the New York and Washington DC area. The FAA cited staffing shortages. The exemptions will apply from May 15 to September 15.

“We don’t need to cancel flights. I’m sure no airline desires to cut flights,” Hayes told CNBC before the event on the Economic Club of New York. “But if we do not cut them off, the system won’t work this summer.”

Staff shortages and potential flight schedule cuts within the region highlight the difficulties airlines are facing to extend capability as travel demand returns within the wake of the pandemic lull.

The variety of flight cancellations and delays increased through the peak periods of 2022, with airlines reducing schedules to present more slack to the system. If the weather is bad or there are other challenges, disruptions are inclined to cascade if airlines have filled their schedules with too many flights.

Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways Corp., speaks on the Economic Club of New York event in New York, U.S., Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hayes said the newest measure has a specific impact on New York-based JetBlue since the overwhelming majority of its flights take off or land in town or go through its airspace.

“We have the staff, we have already trained the pilots, we’re paying for the pilots, we have bought the planes, we’re paying for the gates and slots,” Hayes said. “This could have a really significant financial impact on JetBlue and our customers.”

Delta Airlines asked the FAA to return as much as 10% of airline slots or hours of operation on the three major airports serving New York City and Washington Reagan National Airport through the time period. United Airlines did an identical one application.

Carriers have until April 30 to use for an exemption.

“This [air traffic controller] The staffing problem has been there for years,” Hayes said. The airline has yet to use for a time slot or working time waiver, but Hayes said the carrier plans to achieve this and notify customers as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, the FAA held a gathering with airline executives about measures to ease congestion within the New York City area. He held similar talks last yr about Florida’s busy airspace and agreed to extend staffing to deal with the surge in traffic.

“Operators have requested cooperation and communication with the FAA early and steadily to plan for circumstances which will cause delays, including weather events, space launches and military operations,” the FAA said in a press release. “They discussed how closer collaboration and frequent air traffic updates would help them plan crews more effectively.”

The FAA said participants also discussed alternative flight routes, similar to overwater routes.

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