United’s CEO admits to taking private jets amid US aviation woes

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby issued an apology Friday for chartering a private jet at the height of the nationwide weather-related travel disruptions earlier this week thousands of flights were delayed and cancelled.

Kirby took a private flight from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, a United spokesperson confirmed to CBS News.

According to the flight tracking website FlightAware, more than 7,400 US flights were delayed on Wednesday and another 1,200 US flights were cancelled.

Kirby, in a statement provided to CBS News Friday night, said it “was the wrong decision”[ads1]; to charter the jet “because it was insensitive to our customers who were waiting to come home.”

He went on to offer “sincere apologies to our customers and our team members who have worked around the clock for several days – often through severe weather – to take care of our customers.”

Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, during an interview in New York City on June 12, 2023.

Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

His apology is only days away after he criticized The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to cancel hundreds of flights this past weekend due to the severe weather.

In an email to employees Monday, Kirby said the FAA “failed” United by specifically ordering cancellations and delays of flights at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey amid difficult weather conditions that they have “historically been able to handle.” “

The FAA, which oversees air traffic in the United States, responded to Kirby’s criticism by telling CBS News in an email that it “will always work with anyone who is seriously willing to join us in solving a problem.”

Flights were still strained into the Fourth of July holiday weekend. As of Friday night, more than 400 U.S. flights had been canceled and 6,700 delayed, per FlightAware.

Elizabeth Napolitano contributed to this report.

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