The Sunshine State has cast a gloom over air travel.

The rash of flight cancellations and delays nationwide have been exacerbated by the difficulties of flying to and from Florida, according to a report.

About a third of all flights from every major airline cross Florida airspace but pilots are at the mercy of elements beyond their control — from volatile weather to air traffic that is routinely crowded with military jets and rocket launches — airline officials say.

Staffing shortages — at airports and airlines — have also hampered the industry following the lifting of pandemic-related lockdown measures. All together, it creates a perfect storm of travel chaos that has left fliers frustrated.

“It’s been a cluster and a half,” Andrew Levy, the CEO of startup Avelo Airlines, told The Wall Street Journal.

Levy described the difficulty of expanding into Florida, where delays have at times forced pilots to wait hours on the ground before they are able to take off.

“It’s created enormous problems for us.”

Stormy weather, airline staff shortages, and not enough air traffic controllers have exacerbated air travel woes in Florida this year.
Stormy weather, airline staff shortages, and not enough air traffic controllers have exacerbated air travel woes in Florida this year.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country, but its airports appear to be having difficulty handling the volume of incoming passengers.

Federal data released in June showed the Sunshine State’s four major airports — Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Miami — were in the top five for worst on-time flight arrivals.

Only Newark Airport in New Jersey, which ranked first in lowest percentage of on-time arrivals, beat out the Florida hubs.

Orlando, which had the second-worst percentage of on-time arrivals, saw more than 1,200 incoming flights canceled from the beginning of this year through June 14, according to federal data. In all of 2019, there were just a little over 560 cancellations.

Beach goers walk along the shoreline in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Beach goers walk along the shoreline in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
AP

Cancellation rates and delays were also above the national average in busy hubs such as Palm Beach and Fort Myers.

Spirit Airlines, the popular low-cost carrier, has been unhappy over staff shortages at Jacksonville Air Traffic Control Center.

Matt Klein, the airline’s chief commercial officer, told a recent earnings call that the company has been “constrained on the number of flights we can operate to the Jacksonville air traffic control center.”

Spirit said that Florida accounted for 40% of its flight operations in the continental United States.

“If this constraint did not exist, Florida to the continental US would likely be closer to 50% of our network,” Klein told investors.

Passengers waiting to board a JetBlue flight crowd into a terminal at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Passengers waiting to board a JetBlue flight crowd into a terminal at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Getty Images

Spirit, which agreed late last month to sell itself to JetBlue for $3.8 billion, reported a second quarter net loss of $52.4 million.

The Federal Aviation Administration told the Journal that it plans to beef up staff at the Jacksonville airport.

The agency also said it plans to hire 1,500 new air traffic controllers nationwide starting next fiscal year Oct. 1.

“Where demand has increased, the FAA is adding additional controllers,” the FAA told the Journal.



Source link

Author

Comments are closed.