Just when we thought major air travel problems were over after the Southwest fiasco, an error with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) systems caused all flights to be grounded Wednesday.
Overnight on Tuesday, more than 7,300 flights were delayed, and over 1,100 were canceled, according to FlightAware’s website. This is the highest of cancellations and delays since 9/11.
The FAA outage was in the Notice to Air Missions systems (NOTAM) which provides pilots and flight crews with essential safety information. The outage has caused concern about a possible cyberattack. However, President Biden confirms that U.S. officials have no evidence of a breach in security.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN, “There’s been no direct evidence or indication of that, but we are also not going rule that out until we have a clear and better understanding of what’s taken place.”
He backed the FAA’s decision to ground all flights after his criticism of staffing and technology issues over the past months. He says the ground stop was out of an “abundance of caution.”
The “FAA will always act to make sure that passengers are safe,” he said. “Part of what you saw this morning was an act of caution to be sure – until it was 100% airtight that the system was working properly even just delivering messages – that we had that ground stop,” he said.
So far, American Airlines and Delta Airlines have resumed air travel, according to NBC News. However, with significant delays.
American Airlines released a statement saying it was continuing to “closely monitor” the FAA outage and “working to minimize further disruption to our customers and operation.”
NBC News reports that according to Flightware, “Delta was slightly less impacted than American, with just over 1,000 flights, or 35%, delayed, and 58, or 2%, canceled as of 12:30 p.m. ET.”
Customers whose air travel was impacted can rebook travel with no additional fees for Wednesday and Thursday, American Airlines confirmed.