United CEO seeks to avoid flight disruptions for US holiday travel

United Airlines is planning to make changes in flight operations to avoid weather-related disruptions ahead of the Fourth of July holiday travel. The airline is concerned about handling the summer travel boom during the first Fourth of July holiday, which is expected to exceed pre-COVID levels. 


Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said that while airlines control within their control, they must also plan against outside factors to recover more quickly. Last month, United canceled about 19% of its scheduled flights due to thunderstorms and equipment failures at a US Federal Aviation Administration facility in Washington. Kirby blamed the FAA for recent flight cancellations.

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The company is also working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to obtain more gates, but the company would need to further change or reduce its schedule to provide more spare gates and buffers, particularly during storm season. 

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Kirby said that airlines can plan for hurricanes, sub-zero temperatures, and snowstorms, but United has never experienced an extended limited operating environment like the one seen at Newark.

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