United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has apologized for flying private the same week the airline canceled thousands of flights and stranded customers in the US.
«Taking a private plane was the wrong decision because it was insensitive to our customers waiting to get home,» Kirby said in a statement shared with NBC News by the airline. «I sincerely apologize to our customers and our team members who have been working around the clock for several days, often in bad weather, to take care of our customers.»
Kirby took the private jet from Teterboro, New Jersey, to Denver on Wednesday, the same day United Airlines canceled 750 flights, The Associated Press informed.
United has canceled nearly 3,000 flights this week, most of them at Newark Liberty International Airport, the outlet reported.
“I promise to further demonstrate my respect for the dedication of our team members and the loyalty of our customers,” Kirby said.
Severe weather hit the East Coast this week, bringing thunderstorms that resulted in thousands of flight delays and cancellations.
Newark, LaGuardia and JFK warned on Twitter Tuesday that weather conditions were causing flight disruptions, delays and cancellations, as they warned travelers to allow extra time and contact their airlines for updates.
But the weather was not the only reason. He The United States faces a continuing shortage of air traffic controllers. It’s a problem Kirby highlighted in a letter to employees Monday, blaming the shortage on potential headaches in the coming weeks.
«I’m … frustrated that the FAA frankly failed us this weekend,» Kirby said, adding that he estimated that more than 150,000 United customers had experienced outages «due to FAA personnel issues and their ability to manage the traffic».
The problems began last weekend, with the cancellation of almost 2,000 US flights, according to FlightAware. The disruptions continued through Monday, when more than 11,000 US flights were delayed or cancelled. At least 7,300 were affected on Tuesday.
By Wednesday, delays and cancellations had begun to level off on about 2,000 US flights, according to FlightAware.
United Airlines said Friday there was a «significant improvement» in its operation «after a challenging week that began with bad weather on the East Coast that caused a major ripple effect throughout our system.»
«We expect delays and cancellations to continue to decrease as we approach the busy holiday stretch,» the airline said. tweeted.