More flights were canceled in the first six months of 2022 than during all of last year, according to FlightAware.
Airlines reported 121,918 U.S. air travel cancellations between Jan. 1-June 29, Newsweek reported, based on data provided by FlightAware.
That number surpassed the 121,552 canceled flights for all of 2021, and puts 2022 on course to be the worst nonpandemic year for cancellations, surpassing 2019 (170,632).
Airlines also have experienced an increase in flight delays, with 20.2% of flights — more than 890,000 — being delayed so far in 2022, compared to 13.1% in the first half of 2021, FlightAware data show.
A large portion of this year's cancellations came during the last month, with more flights being canceled in June 2022 than any June previously, according to the data.
Among the 10 busiest airlines this year, American Airlines had the most cancellations (17,138, 3.3% of flights) through June 29, according to FlightAware data. Delta Air Lines had the lowest rate (1.9%) of cancellation among the top 10 with 9,064 of its 489,738 flights.
This year was on track to rival 2020, when 298,000 flights were canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The only other year on record to have surpassed 200,000 cancellations was 2001, when thousands of flights were grounded after the 9/11 attacks.
Factors contributing to the disrupted air travel included shortages of pilots and air traffic controllers, weather complications, and airlines scheduling flights beyond their capacities, Newsweek said.
Also, thousands of industry workers were let go during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have not returned.
"Certain jobs cannot be filled quickly, nor should they be when it's as critical as, you know, pilots. And so now we have this shortage. There's just no way it's going to be fixed this summer,” William McGee, senior fellow for aviation at American Economic Liberties Project, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
With airlines working to hire and retain staff, some pilots are demanding improved pay, protections, and scheduling.
Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian on Thursday apologized for recent flight cancellations and delays, as U.S. lawmakers raised questions about ongoing industry-wide disruptions.
Some off-duty Delta pilots protested at several airports Thursday with demands to resume contract negotiations that were paused indefinitely during the pandemic
Reuters contributed to this story.