The FAA said Friday that an “increased number” of its own employees will test positive for the virus. This could force it to put in place health and cleaning procedures that reduce the number of flights the system can handle.
“To ensure safety, traffic in some facilities could be reduced, which can lead to delays at peak times,” the FAA said.
Airlines have canceled more than 11,000 flights since Christmas Eve, including more than 1,000 already removed from the Saturday and Sunday flight schedules. But none of these were the result of FAA problems, the agency said.
The Transportation Security Administration told CNN on Thursday that it “has sufficient staff to cover flight schedules and passenger volumes.”
Shortage of staff
Airlines are canceling flights due to a lack of staff. They had increased staff and brought employees back from cost-saving leave of absence. The number of airline employees was 718,000 in October, the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, up from 669,000 a year earlier.
However, the industry says the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is marginalizing its teams and has successfully urged federal officials to cut isolation and quarantine guidelines.
With airlines grappling with crews unavailable to work or out of place, several are signaling the disruption will continue.