united airlinesChief Executive Scott Kirby said without more gates, the airline would have to reduce or change its flight schedule to deal with frequent traffic jams at its Newark hub in New Jersey , the news comes after massive flight delays impacted travel over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The airline is offering 30,000 frequent-flyer miles to customers most affected by the chaos.

“This has been one of the most operationally challenging weeks of my entire career,” Kirby said in a note to staff Saturday.

He said the airline needed to add more gates at Newark Liberty International Airport, where there is frequent aircraft backup. “We’re going to have to change/reduce our schedule further to give ourselves more alternate gates and buffer zones – especially during thunderstorm season,” he added. United did not provide further details on the reduced schedule.

Kirby apologized a day after leaving thousands of passengers on his private jet at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, CNBC first reported Friday.

The problems started last weekend when a series of thunderstorms disrupted aircraft routes in some of the most congested airspace on the country’s east coast. While most airlines have recovered, United’s problems continued this week, angering passengers and crew.United and JetBlue Airways Air traffic control problems compounded the disruption, executives said.

A tough week is also one of the busiest. The TSA said nearly 2.89 million people were screened on July 1 alone, a record for a Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019.

Kirby listed the troubles of the week and said long-term changes are needed. He said extensive delays at the Newark hub since last weekend have hurt its operations. From Sunday to Tuesday, some flights were delayed by more than 8 hours, and the delay rate was as high as 75%.

“Airlines, including United, simply did not design their largest hubs to successfully operate for four consecutive days with severely constrained capacity,” he wrote.

The aircraft and crew were then abandoned, a situation that often occurs during severe weather and could cause a series of disruptions for customers.

Unions have complained that cabin crew wait hours for assignments and check-in to hotels, forcing them to spend longer at the airport.

Ken Diaz, president of the United Chapter of the American Flight Attendants Association, which represents the airline’s cabin crew, said in a note to members Friday that the airline has a shortage of crew dispatchers. The problem has gotten so bad over the past week that dispatchers don’t know which city some workers are in, he said.

Kirby said United must improve its platform so flight crews can more easily get assignments and accommodations on its app, and said what happened in the past week was unacceptable.

Kirby called for more investment in the FAA and air traffic control to avoid delays and staffing shortages, some of which occurred after hiring and training were suspended early in the pandemic.

United sends 30,000 miles to passengers who arrive late or never arrive at their destination, a spokesman said. She declined to say how many customers had received the email.

This amount is enough for a round-trip domestic ticket to many destinations, although the required miles will vary depending on the flight or route.

From June 24 through Sunday, more than 63,000 U.S. flights were delayed and more than 9,000 were canceled, according to flight-tracking firm FlightAware, accounting for more than 4% of airline schedules and nearly the average so far this year. triple the level. United fared worse than rivals, with 47% of its mainline flights delayed and 15% canceled during the period, according to FlightAware data.

On Sunday, 7,650 U.S. flights were delayed and more than 630 canceled due in large part to thunderstorms on the East Coast.United Airlines delays nearly 900 flights, a third of its operations, while nearly 1,000 are delayed American airlines More than 300 flights delayed JetBlue Airways The flight is delayed. Airports in the New York City area, led by Newark, were hardest hit.

Thunderstorms are one of the biggest challenges for airlines because they can be sudden and less predictable than hurricanes or winter storms, allowing airlines to cancel flights early to avoid stranded passengers and crew.


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