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After Storms Ground Flights, United CEO Blames FAA for Issues

Frankfurt, Germany - July 17, 2014: United Airlines aircraft logo at an aircraft in Frankfurt. United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

With issues continuing for United Airlines flyers after storms grounded thousands of flights, the airline’s chief executive is lashing out at the FAA for exacerbating the issues.
When severe storms ground flights and cause major disruption for airline networks, who is responsible for bringing things back to normal?


In an internal memo viewed by Reuters, United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby is blasting the Federal Aviation Administration for “failing” both the carrier and their customers after the major storms.


Kirby: “The FAA frankly failed us this weekend.”

A rash of severe thunderstorms over the weekend of June 24 and 25, 2023, airlines were forced to cancel hundreds of flights. While many have caught up, none have been as heavily affected as United Airlines. In a situation reminiscent of Southwest Airlines’ meltdown in December 2022, FlightAware.com notes the Chicago-based carrier has cancelled over 2,500 flights through Thursday, June 29, 2023.


In turn, Kirby is putting the issue squarely on the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. air traffic control systems. Addressing airline employees, the longtime airline executive claims that the FAA significantly cut both arrival rates and departure rates. In turn, Kirby claims dropping the operations rates led to the massive backup, stranding passengers across the country.


“I’m … frustrated that the FAA frankly failed us this weekend,” Kirby said in the memo seen by Reuters. “We estimate that over 150,000 customers on United alone were impacted this weekend because of FAA staffing issues and their ability to manage traffic.”


A spokesperson for the FAA dismissed United’s claims, telling the news outlet: “We will always collaborate with anyone seriously willing to join us to solve a problem.”


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