USA: Airlines warned of flight interruptions

On Friday, more than 2.4 million people went through security checks at U.S. airports, a figure that came within about 12,500 of surpassing the pandemic-era high of the Sunday after thanksgiving last year.

The record would surely have been broken if airlines had not canceled 1,400 flights, many of them due to thunderstorms recorded in some parts of the East Coast of the United States.

A day earlier, airlines canceled more than 1,700 flights, according to tracking service FlightAware.

A day after U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met with airline executives to question them about widespread flight disruptions, his own flight was canceled and he had to travel by land from Washington D.C. to New York.

“This is happening to a lot of people and that’s why we’re paying a lot of attention to what can be done and how to make sure airlines deliver on what they promised,” Buttigieg told The Press in an interview Saturday.

Buttigieg said he is pressuring airlines to test their summer itineraries to ensure they can carry out all their scheduled flights with the staff they have and to add customer service workers.

This will put pressure on airlines to make more cuts to their summer itineraries.

Buttigieg said his department would crack down on airlines that fail to comply with consumer protection rules.

But first, he said, he wants to see if there are major flight disruptions during the July 4 holiday weekend and the rest of the summer.

Coercive measures can result in fines, although they are usually small amounts. Air Canada agreed to pay a $2 million fine last year for slow repayments.

During Thursday’s virtual meeting, airline executives outlined the steps they are taking to prevent a repeat of what happened on the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when some 2,800 flights were canceled.

“Now we’re going to see how those measures are met,” Buttigieg said.