Delta Air Lines’ top boss apologized for a recent wave of flight delays and cancellations that have prompted chaos for air travelers ahead of the busy Fourth of July weekend.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian issued his mea culpa to irritated customers during a dismal week in which the airline canceled more than 400 flights, according to data from tracking service FlightAware – with more travel chaos expected over the holiday.
“If you’ve encountered delays and cancellations recently, I apologize,” Bastian said in a letter shared on his LinkedIn page. “We’ve spent years establishing Delta Air Lines as the industry leader in reliability, and though the majority of our flights. continue to operate on time, this level of disruption and uncertainty is unacceptable. ”
Inclement weather exacerbated difficult conditions this week for Delta and other US airlines, which are scrambling to meet surging demand despite severe shortages of pilots and crews as well as sky-high fuel costs. Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed during the most recent holiday weekend for Father’s Day and June teenth.
Bastian said Delta was “on a path towards a steady recovery” but warned “things won’t change overnight. He noted the airline was working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to limit interruptions for its passengers.
The Delta chief also defended the airline’s reliability, stating it has maintained “over 96% of our scheduled departures, with more than 80% of our flights arriving within 14 minutes of their scheduled arrival time.”
Earlier this week, Delta warned customers of a “potentially challenging” situation for Fourth of July travelers. The Atlanta-based airline took the unusual step of waiving rebooking fees from July 1 through July 4 so long as customers maintained the same departure and arrival point.
“Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta’s operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the ripple effect of disruptions,” Delta said in a statement. “Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend.”
Delta’s apology came as US carriers face mounting scrutiny from federal officials over the wave of cancellations.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently pushed for airlines to conduct “stress tests” for their summer schedules and warned carriers who fail to uphold federal consumer protection standards could face penalties.
Meanwhile, GOP members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee have demanded a briefing with Buttigieg, arguing his department “Does not have a serious plan to address deteriorating flight schedules.”
Airlines for America, a trade group representing major US air operators, has asserted that a shortage of FAA air traffic controllers is contributing to the disruptions.