Flight delays blamed on limited staffing at Jacksonville air traffic control center, weather

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — RELATED: Southwest Airlines cancels hundreds more flights

UPDATE 10/10/2021: Action News Jax’s Ben Becker obtained a letter from Jacksonville Aviation Authority COO Tony Cugno to the Board of Directors that refutes the rumor of an organized walkout by controllers regarding the vaccination mandate.

Read the letter below:


ORIGINAL STORY: Mass flight cancellations were blamed on limited staffing at the Jacksonville Air Traffic Control Center in Hilliard and weather Friday night, according to the FAA.

Several flights in and out of Florida were either canceled or delayed Friday night.

Allison Hill went to Disney World with her family. She said their 9:50 p.m. flight Friday from Orlando to Houston was delayed and eventually canceled early Saturday morning.

On Saturday, they rented a car in hopes of getting a flight out of Tampa to get home.

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”Having to search everywhere for a rental car and hotel and then the hours and hours in the airport have been really rough,” she said. The Hills had a flight on Southwest.

In a tweet, Southwest said, “ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation.”

A representative for the Federal Aviation Administration told Action News Jax, “Due to a combination of severe weather, active military training in the airspace, and unexpected limited staff at the Jacksonville facility that handles high-altitude, en route traffic, the FAA took steps to safely manage air traffic the evening of Oct. 8. Normal operations returned at approximately 10 p.m.”

Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says the weather was clear in the area long before the delays were reported.

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”It certainly doesn’t seem like things are back to normal,” Hill said. “There’s tons of flights canceled still even [Saturday] so I don’t really know what’s going on.”

At Jacksonville International Airport, a representative said seven flights were canceled. “Passengers and those picking up should check with their airline before heading to the airport.”