Dept. of Transportation watchdog to investigate flight cancellations and delays

Feb 21, 2023, 8:50 PM

Travelers look at an information board showing flight cancellations and delays at Reagan National A...

Travelers look at an information board showing flight cancellations and delays at Reagan National Airport in December 2022. The Department of Transportation's internal watchdog said on February 21 it is launching a probe into the spike in flight cancellations and delays. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images via CNN)

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — The Department of Transportation’s internal watchdog said Tuesday it is launching a probe into the spike in flight cancellations and delays that have come in the wake of the pandemic.

The Office of the Inspector General audit will focus on the federal agency’s role in these cancellations, rather than the airlines. In a memo, the IG said more than “30,000 of the delayed and cancelled flights were attributable to issues in the National Airspace System such as heavy traffic and air traffic control.”

It identified disruptions that took place over the summer and during the Christmas holiday and pointed to staffing and weather as contributing factors. The IG wants to find out both the causes of the delays and cancellations as well as the accuracy of the government’s data around flight disruptions.

“We are initiating this audit to inform Congress and the general public about the reported causes of these events. This will be first in a series of audits to understand and evaluate flight delays and cancellations as well as DOT’s actions to address them,” the memo stated.

The IG plans to conduct its work at DOT and Federal Aviation Administration headquarters, it said.

The IG also announced a separate audit of the FAA’s planned NextGen effort to upgrade the air traffic system, a multibillion-dollar infrastructure program.

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Dept. of Transportation watchdog to investigate flight cancellations and delays