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Flight delays in the United States are finally starting to improve, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a recent interview.
"We are keeping our eye on things. We've seen good improvements," Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen told Reuters on Wednesday. "We can see overall delays are down… The airlines are working to right size their network."
In fact, the 10 major carriers in the U.S. saw improvements of both on-time performance and the rate of cancellations in May, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data. During the month, airlines canceled 2% of all scheduled domestic flights, a decrease from April when 2.3% were canceled. Airlines also reported an on-time arrival rate of 77.2% in May, an increase from the 76% reported in April.
Hawaiian Airlines (voted the best domestic airline by Travel + Leisure readers) led the pack with an on-time arrival rate of 86% and a cancellation rate of only 0.1%. Delta Air Lines had the highest rate of canceled flights with 2.7% of departures axed, while Frontier Airlines had the lowest on-time arrival rate of only 64.6%.
Airlines have canceled flights in droves this summer, with several preemptively slashing their schedules to avoid further disruptions. And the problems have extended beyond the U.S. with London's Heathrow Airport forced to implement a cap on passenger capacity just to keep up, and Air Canada temporarily banning pets from the cargo hold due to "longer than usual" delays at airports.
U.S. carriers have blamed the chaos on a combination of air traffic control problems and staffing shortages.
Nolen told Reuters the FAA was working to hire more air traffic controllers, but added the "majority" of the problems "are not in any way shape or form related to air traffic (staffing) shortages."
"We are on track to hire 1,000 controllers this year," Nolen said, receiving more than 57,000 applications for 1,500 positions.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.