LAX sees flight cancellations, delays due to severe storms on the East Coast and in the Midwest

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023
LAX sees flight cancellations, delays due to severe weather elsewhere
Air travelers across the country, including many at Los Angeles International Airport, were met by extensive flight delays and cancellations due to severe weather in other parts of the U.S.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Air travelers across the country, including many at Los Angeles International Airport, were met by extensive flight delays and cancellations Tuesday due to severe weather, tornadoes and heat waves.

By late morning Tuesday, there were 160 delays of flights either in or out of LAX, along with 30 cancellations, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.

A total of 13 flight delays and four cancellations were reported at Hollywood Burbank Airport, while John Wayne Airport in Orange County had 24 delays and eight cancellations, according to FlightAware.

Thousands of air travelers over the weekend and Monday faced cancellations and delays because of thunderstorms on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Data from FlightAware showed that, on Tuesday afternoon, more than 5,400 flights within, into or out of the US were delayed and more than 1,600 were canceled. Still, that's a major decrease from Monday's chaos, when more than 11,000 flights were either delayed or canceled because of severe weather and air traffic control staffing issues.

United Airlines was once again faring the worst of the US domestic airlines. About 16% of its schedule, or 467 flights, was canceled and another 37%, or 1,062 flights, was delayed just before 6 pm ET. Republic Airways, which operates feeder flights for American Airlines, Delta and United, had 35% of its schedule canceled (333 flights).

The four US airports most affected Tuesday afternoon are all major hubs for either United or Delta: New Jersey's Newark Liberty, both of New York City's airports (LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy) and Boston's Logan. But the problems weren't limited to the Northeast. There were 17 airports spread across the country, from San Francisco to Orlando, which had at least 20% of their flights delayed according to FlightAware.

More than 40 million people in the Northeast and Central Plains are at risk of severe storms on Tuesday. The majority of people at risk are located in the Northeast, including Philadelphia and Washington, DC, where a Level 1 of 5 threat has been issued by the Storm Prediction Center. A level 3 of 5 threat, of severe weather, is highlighted for parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, including Wichita and Tulsa.

Scattered thunderstorms are again expected east of a cold front from the Mid-Atlantic into parts of the Northeast, leading to the possibility of even more flight delays and cancellations later.

Some of these afternoon storms could produce damaging wind gusts, and heavy rain from these storms could produce isolated instances of flash flooding, particularly over parts of southeastern New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

United CEO blames FAA for weekend delays

Since travel problems started to mount on Saturday there have been more than 5,000 flights to, from or within the United States canceled according to FlightAware's midday stats at midday Tuesday, and another 28,500 delayed.

While weather is part of the reason for the problem, a lack of adequate staffing at the air traffic control centers run by the Federal Aviation Administration and a lack of capacity at US airlines also come into play.

That adds to the problem, making it difficult for the system to handle disruptions caused by bad weather, and for passengers to find seats on new flights when their original flight is canceled.

The head of United Airlines, in a strongly worded memo to staff, blamed the FAA's air traffic controller staffing problems for "unprecedented challenges" this past weekend that impacted "over 150,000 customers on United alone."

"The FAA frankly failed us this weekend," said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby in an internal company memo shared with CNN.

Kirby says that on Saturday, the FAA reduced arrival rates at its major hub at Newark Liberty International Airport by 40 percent and departure rates by 75 percent, which was "almost certainly a reflection of understaffing/lower experience at the FAA."

"It led to massive delays, cancellations, diversions, as well as crews and aircraft out of position," Kirby said. "And that put everyone behind the eight ball when weather actually did hit on Sunday and was further compounded by FAA staffing shortages Sunday evening."

Kirby says he will be meeting with the FAA and Department of Transportation "to discuss what steps FAA can take in the immediate term to prevent this from happening again this summer."

The FAA responded Tuesday morning, saying "we will always collaborate with anyone seriously willing to join us to solve a problem."

City News Service and the CNN Wire contributed to this report.