© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Delta Air Lines aircraft are seen at John F. Kennedy International Airport over the weekend of July 4 in Queens, New York City, U.S., July 2, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Delta Air Lines may temporarily cut some flights at New York’s LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for know on Friday.
The FAA said as a condition of approval that Delta “should offer customers a refund or rebook them on Delta or another carrier as needed for flights canceled at the three airports.” .”
Delta has asked the FAA to waive the minimum vacancy requirements at congested airports because of issues including New York airport construction, significant crew sick time, inclement weather and air traffic control delays and cancellations.
The FAA said the approval “will support Delta’s steps in adjusting schedules and staffing assignments to increase operational reliability and minimize disruption to travelers.”
The relief covers flights from June 1 to September 5. Airlines could lose seats at some congested airports if they don’t use them at least 80% of the time.
Delta said in a statement, FAA approval “will allow us to continue to improve shared challenges and service reliability with minimal impact on customers.”
An airline spokeswoman declined to say how many flights are exempt.
The FAA revealed in May that Delta pilots took 19,985 days of sick leave, a 45% increase from 13,786 days in May 2019. In June, pilots’ sick days increased by 50% compared to June. 2019. Delta also reported in May that its flight attendants missed 43,908 days due to FAA-reported illness, a 23% increase.
“Delta states that due to unforeseen spikes, its workforce and flight operations are experiencing unusual stress, leaving little profit for operational challenges due to construction, delays, etc. of ATC and weather,” the FAA said.
The FAA said its “priority is for Delta to reduce discounted flights to minimize disruptions due to near-term disruption.”
In May, Delta said it would cut flights through August to improve operational reliability amid soaring travel demand. Delta said that from July 1 to August 7, it will cut about 100 daily departures, mainly in the US and Latin American markets.