The skies above the United States will have far fewer planes this afternoon than usual; this is because the FAA, through a request from United Airlines, has issued a ground stop to the carrier for all departing flights nationwide.
In a brief X posting, the FAA announced, “United asked the FAA to pause the airline’s departures nationwide. For more information, contact United regarding its request.”
United also took to X to write, “We are experiencing a systemwide technology issue and are holding all aircraft at their departure airports. Flights that are already airborne are continuing to their destination as planned. We will share more information as it becomes available.”
U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, also took to X to say, “Am aware of the nationwide ground stop at United Airlines due to IT issues. FAA is currently receiving more information about the cause and scope of the issue, and DOT will make sure UA (United Airlines) meets its obligations to affected passengers.”
A ground stop is a traffic management initiative requiring aircraft that meet specific criteria to remain on the ground at their origination airport. The ground stop may be airport specific, related to a geographical area, or equipment related. Ground stops usually occur during a weather-related event, such as a thunderstorm, presence of hail or high winds, landfalling hurricane or tropical cyclone, or in some cases, an operational event such as the event that is occurring now.
United Airlines is the largest carrier in the United States in terms of offered capacity, although American Airlines has more aircraft. In all, United operates 919 aircraft, with many based in hubs located in Newark, New Jersey, Chicago, Illinois, Houston, Texas, and San Francisco, California.
As of right now, according to Flightradar24, there are 515 United flights in the air right now which is 135 fewer than the same time last week.