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Data from the United States Transportation Department showed that passenger airline flight cancellations dropped in July, but air travel service complaints rose.

According to Reuters.com, the Department of Transportation revealed that cancellations fell 1.8 percent in July (down from 3.1 percent in June), but complaints rose 16.5 percent from the previous month.

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Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

Government officials said complaints in July were more than 260 percent above pre-pandemic levels, but carriers continue to improve service and boost staffing after a summer travel season full of delays and cancellations.

“The difference between a normal level of cancellation — it is never going to be zero with weather and stuff — a normal level is between one and two percent,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “If it’s three percent we feel it, it’s quite bad. If it is four percent that’s when you start seeing words like meltdown or chaos or hell in headlines.”

Airlines claim the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic control staffing has been a significant issue, with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association revealing the agency has “more than 1,000 fewer (certified controllers) and 1,500 fewer total controllers on-board.”

FAA officials said they are working to hire 1,000 controllers by the end of the year.

“When you have air traffic control close a center down or close a region it leads to hundreds of delays and cancellations,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said. “When we just point the finger at airlines, when that’s not the biggest issue or the second biggest or the third biggest or the fourth biggest, we can’t fix it.”


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