Federal Aviation Authorities Are Working On Solutions To Fix The Mass Flight Delays In Florida
If you are traveling to Florida, pack large amounts of patience in your bags. Now that pandemic restrictions have been eased, more airlines are expanding their flight services and more travelers are eager to go on vacations. As a result, air traffic is busier than ever, especially in Florida.
There are different factors jamming up the skies: more airlines resuming flight services, new low-cost airlines adding services—Avelo recently opened its third base in Orlando—, private jets, space launches, thunderstorms, staff shortages, and soon hurricane season. Florida’s air traffic is facing a terrible gridlock and it’s becoming a huge problem affecting thousands of travelers.
Last weekend thunderstorms in Florida and technology issues were the main reasons why over 10,000 flights were canceled or delayed. Local and national authorities are working together to find solutions to meeting air traffic demands, which have surpassed pre-pandemic levels. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Wednesday that they are working on fixing the aviation system.
The situation is already troubling many travelers. Thousands of passengers that have been affected by recent delays and flight cancellations have had to pay extra for meals, hotels, and transportation alternatives.
Federal Aviation Administration’s Solution
One of the main solutions the FAA—responsible for the traffic control system across the United States— finds essential is to increase staffing in Florida to improve traffic flow.
In a statement, the agency said: “Because representatives said Florida operations will continue increasing past 2019 levels, the FAA will immediately increase the number of authorized staff at Jacksonville Center and evaluate other Florida facilities.”
The FAA held a “productive” two-day meeting with industry members, including airlines, aviation groups, and unions, to discuss the issues and the possible solutions. Airlines executives will continue to expand services in the region due to high demand, so the solution is to optimize the system and hire more air traffic controllers for the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center.
Other factors discussed were weather conditions, space launches, and military exercises that usually translate into airspace closures, stopping airlines from flying and delivering services on time.
The FAA promised to work on alternatives: “The agency will also work with stakeholders to develop a playbook to keep aircraft moving safely when weather, space launches or other events constrain capacity.” And added: “The FAA will increase the ability for airlines to keep aircraft moving during these events by using alternate routes and altitudes when possible.”
The agency also assured that authorities will be meeting with airlines throughout the summer to improve services and guarantee continuous plane flow.
Members of the industry are feeling hopeful. Barry Biffle, Frontier Chief Executive Officer, said on a conference call that the current situation of the traffic control is “an unsustainable thing” and added: “We’re really excited that the FAA is stepping in knee-deep on this.”
Travelers Love Florida
According to data shared on CNBC, Florida hit a record of 118 million domestic visitors last year. Americans have been finding ways to travel to the Sunshine State, including hiring private jets during the pandemic.
Peter Maestrales, chief executive officer of charter broker Airstream Jets, said to Bloomberg: “Palm Beach was typically a pretty quiet airport, now it’s unbelievable the departure delays, and just the amount of aircraft parked on the tarmac out there.”
Compared to 2019—before the pandemic— now services to West Palm Beach have increased by 132%, Tampa by 107%, and Miami by 113% according to FAA data. Travelers are eager to visit these coastal cities and the trend suggests that these numbers will keep going up.
Travelers visiting Florida in the following weeks should bear in mind that delays and flight cancellations might still happen, but feel hopeful that local authorities and the industry members are already working on solutions.
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