If your Memorial Day weekend travel plans are ruined by flight delays, you might want to consider blaming the federal government.
The Federal Aviation Administration says that it has only about 80 percent of the air traffic controllers it needs nationwide, with some regions of the country falling far short of that. The air traffic control facility covering New York City area airports only has about half the controllers it needs, the agency reported in March.
It predicts that staffing shortfalls and spiking summer travel demand could see delays increase by nearly 50 percent.
The FAA blames the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for its staffing shortages. Air traffic controller trainings were delayed to accommodate social distancing, and subsequent programs to expedite the training of more controllers haven't made up for lost time. Meanwhile, record numbers of people are expected to travel this summer.