Buttigieg is urging airline CEOs to ensure reliability this summer after a wave of disruptions.

Passengers line up at John F. Kennedy International Airport after airlines announced the cancellation of numerous flights during the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Christmas Eve in Queens, New York, December 24, 2021.

Dieu-Nalio Sheri | Reuters

Transportation Minister Pete Buttigieg on Thursday urged airline CEOs to make sure they can reliably meet their schedules this summer after a surge in delays and cancellations this year, according to a person familiar with the call.

The secretary asked the airlines what steps they are taking to ensure the Memorial Day disruptions don’t reoccur over the July 4 weekend and through the rest of the summer, the source said. Buttigieg also pushed airlines to improve customer service so passengers can quickly rebook tickets, the person said, calling the call “productive and collaborative.”

Airlines have struggled with common disruptions like the weather, along with staffing shortages and rising demand for travel. JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines have already reduced their spring and summer travel schedules to have more room to deal with the disruption.

More than 7,100 US flights have been delayed and nearly 1,600 canceled due to multiple thunderstorms, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

Thursday’s meeting comes after Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) wrote to the U.S. airlines industry group “Airlines for America” ​​earlier this month asking for more information about disruptions during the weekend dedicated to Remembrance Day.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to meet with Department of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to discuss our shared commitment to keeping all travelers safe as they reunite with friends, family and colleagues this summer,” said Nick Calio, CEO of Airlines for America, which represents major American carriers, the statement said.

Airline executives sometimes put the blame on air traffic control.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration called carriers to Florida for a meeting about recent flight disruptions in the state, where flight disruptions include frequent thunderstorms, military exercises and space launches, and a surge in demand.

The FAA, which was in Thursday’s meeting, said it would increase the number of employees at a key air traffic facility in Florida, among other things.

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