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Volume 24 Issue 3
COMPLIMENTARY

Jun 2023 | Business | 0 comments

Brace Yourselves: A Harrowing Summer of Air Travel Ahead

Business | 0 comments

June 2023

Remember the thousands of flight cancellations, endless lines and lost baggage nightmares from last year? Experts warn it could be even worse in 2023. Here’s how to book smarter and fly right in the midst of another Air-mageddon.

Deja Vu of Airport Chaos

Pack your patience, travelers. Those hoping that last summer’s “airport chaos” headlines were a distant memory are in for a nasty case of déjà vu. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) expects 2023 summer air travel volumes to surpass pre-pandemic levels, and industry experts are warning that many of the problems that led to last year’s meltdown have not been resolved.

Air Travel Mayhem and its Impact on Tourism

“This summer’s travel demand will be as strong as we’ve seen since before the pandemic, and potentially the strongest ever,” says Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “That kind of demand in a system that is woefully underfunded and understaffed is likely to create substantial frustrations among travelers.”

Last Summer’s Air-mageddon: A Recap

It’s virtually impossible to overstate the Air-mageddon of Summer 2022. After the aviation industry ground to a virtual halt during the pandemic, it could not ramp up fast enough to handle the massive post-pandemic crush of people finally traveling again. Tens of thousands of flights were delayed and cancelled, travelers were left stranded, countless pieces of baggage were lost, and an aging and outdated infrastructure creaked and strained under the stress of it all.

Outdated Aviation Infrastructure and FAA’s Efforts

First, the United States has been woefully slow to update its aging aviation infrastructure. The issue was fully exposed in January when an outage of one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s critical systems led to a nationwide ground stop of all flights for several hours.

Staffing Challenges: Air Traffic Controller Shortage

Another salient challenge is the ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers. Travel Cassandras were quick to recognize a bad omen when the FAA asked airlines to pull back slots in New York and Washington, D.C. airports this summer, reducing the number of available flights.

Air Traffic Control’s Future and Suggested Changes

Few people understand the challenges of air traffic control better than Paul Rinaldi, a former 16-year air traffic controller at Washington Dulles International Airport and 12-year president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

Lingering Budgetary Issues and a Call to Congress

It’s not clear that Congress has learned anything from past mistakes. The proposed budget by House Republicans would cut the FAA’s operations by $1.4 billion. One-time budget cuts would reduce staffing not just for the coming year, but for the next decade.

– Suzanne Rowan Kelleher (Forbes Staff)

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