TAMPA. Fla. — The unofficial start of summer is approaching, which means you can expect packed airports. There is some good news for those taking to the sky: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is offering some relief to limit flight delays in Florida.
What You Need To Know
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is offering some relief to limit flight delays in Florida
- The FAA promised to add staff to key air traffic control centers throughout Florida, especially Jacksonville, which has a shortage of fully certified controllers
- It will take years to fill vacancies because of the time needed to train new traffic controllers
Air flight delays have been attributed to bad weather, private jet flights and space launches. All of this has contributed to the worst gridlock Florida has seen in years.
The FAA promised to add staff to key air traffic control centers throughout Florida, especially Jacksonville, which has a shortage of fully certified controllers.
“We're are focused on the Jacksonville Center because the traffic coming in and out of Florida to points north of Florida all travel through Jacksonville Center. We want to make sure that’s not a contributing factor. That's what the team was discussing how we can make this efficient as possible," FAA Air Traffic Controller Michael O’Harra said.
It will take years to fill vacancies because of the time needed to train new traffic controllers, the FAA said.
Several different airlines were represented at a meeting with the FAA which confirmed that air travel for summer 2022 would surpass numbers from 2019. The recent lift on COVID restrictions is also adding to the busy travel season.
"Around the state of Florida, a lot of the airports are experiencing record traffic,” said O’Harra. “People have perhaps altered their travel plans and we’re seeing more traffic around the state. We want to make sure we can move that traffic safely and efficiently."
Local officials are calling for some major upgrades at the Orlando Central Terminal Radar Approach Control facility. O’Harra says the FAA is still searching for a funding source to make that possible. He says he hopes money from the infrastructure bill will help with the upgrades.
The FAA says it is following a similar plan to what they’ve used to alleviate air traffic in New York. This would help airlines plan for delays and encourage the use of alternate flight routes instead of cancelling.