Why Are There So Many United Airlines Flight Delays Now?

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United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) continues to experience turbulence stemming from severe East Coast storms that disrupted more than 4,000 flights across the U.S. on Wednesday. Indeed, while most high fliers have rebounded and are back to normal operations, United continues to experience outweighed delays and cancellations.

According to FlightAware, 839 flights in, out, or within the U.S. were canceled as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, with more than 3,330 delays. United represents the greatest victim of weather-based disruptions, canceling more than 400 flights and delaying an additional 650. For reference, JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) canceled just 91 flights and delayed 330.

“Several consecutive days of severe weather and lingering thunderstorms in the Northeast, combined with FAA staffing constraints over the weekend, have resulted in a tough operating environment, especially for our customers flying in and out of the New York area,” a United spokesperson told FOX Business in an email.

“We know our customers are eager to get to their destinations and our airport and call center teams are working overtime to assist them. As we focus on helping our customers whose travel has been disrupted over the last few days, we’re also planning ahead to be ready for the upcoming holiday weekend,” United noted.

Though, it’s clear not everyone agrees on where to put the blame for United’s continued struggles.

United Airlines Blames FAA Staffing Crisis

According to United Airlines Chief Executive Scott Kirby, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is largely to blame for the recent disruptions.

“This is almost certainly a reflection of understaffing/lower experience at the FAA… It led to massive delays, cancelations, diversions, as well as crews and aircraft out of position. And that put everyone behind the eight-ball when weather did hit on Sunday and was further compounded by FAA staffing shortages Sunday evening,” Kirby wrote.

At the time of writing, the majority of flight delays and cancellations that impacted U.S. travelers earlier this week have subsided at most airlines — except at United.

As of noon on Thursday, roughly 487 flights to, from, or within the U.S. have been canceled, with an additional 2,000 delayed. The cancellations specifically have been largely dictated by United, with the airline reporting 383 cancellations, equivalent to 13% of its flights scheduled Thursday.

Pilots Association Blames United’s Leadership

Not everyone agrees it’s the FAA’s fault, either. Some have been quick to blame United leadership for its failure to dedicate the proper resources to flight staff. This includes Captain Garth Thompson, Head of the Air Line Pilots Association unit at United.

“Our pilots agree with our passengers that this lack of foresight and disregard of warning signs is unacceptable. It’s time for United leadership to change their thinking and invest in its labor, staff support, and facilities with updated contracts instead of ensuring our CEO has the highest salary,” he said.

Unfortunately for United, investors have also clearly taken note of the airline’s outweighed struggles. UAL stock fell more than 4.5% Thursday.

On the date of publication, Shrey Dua did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

With degrees in economics and journalism, Shrey Dua leverages his ample experience in media and reporting to contribute well-informed articles covering everything from financial regulation and the electric vehicle industry to the housing market and monetary policy. Shrey’s articles have featured in the likes of Morning Brew, Real Clear Markets, the Downline Podcast, and more.

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