Last winter, seasonal storms decimated flight schedules proving the need for infrastructure improvements for the Federal Aviation Administration's systems. Moreover, as airlines faced pilot and other labor shortages, passengers have noticed an ongoing decline in the quality of U.S. air travel from flight delays, cancellations, and even engine fires.
In an interview with Yahoo Finance's Julie Hyman, Brian Sozzi and Brad Smith, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, "Air traffic control staffing is not the main reason for cancellations and delays, but it is a factor." Buttiegieg adds that to keep that factor from growing, "we've got to have the tools to invest in the people and invest in the technology to modernize FAA systems. Many of these are legacy systems. They've obviously done an incredible job... but that's not something that's just going to keep going on its own."
Key video moments:
00:00:05 Air traffic control hiring
00:00:20 Modernizing legacy systems
00:00:50 FAA & Pres. Biden's budget
Watch our full conversation with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg here.
PETE BUTTIGIEG: We've got to make sure that staffing is not the limiting factor. Now, I want to emphasize, right now, air traffic control staffing is not the main reason for cancellations and delays but it is a factor. And in order to keep that factor from growing and move it in the right direction, we've got to have the tools to invest in the people and invest in the technology to modernize FAA systems.
Many of these are legacy systems. They've obviously done an incredible job in terms of the extraordinary safety record here in the most complex and safest airspace in the world. But it's not something that's just gonna keep going on its own. You have to fund it.
And that idea of being able to have a multiyear vision for how we're going to improve these systems, being able to have a multiyear vision for how to get these air traffic controllers in seat and be hiring at a faster rate than people are retiring, these are critically important. They're in the President's budget. And we're urging Congress to work with us to get it done. The last thing anybody should want to see right now is more cancellations and delays because politics somehow got in the way of doing the right thing for safety and for convenience of airline passengers.