Limited flights out of New York may clog travel as air traffic controller shortages continue to haunt the FAA.

This summer, airlines have had to reduce the number of flights in and out of the three large airports in the New York City area, trying to tackle their rash of cancellations and flight delays.

Since the middle of the pandemic, major airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration have gone around and around blaming one another for massive waves of cancellations and delays, especially on high-traffic holidays. But a major factor is undeniably with the FAA and their air traffic controller staffing shortages.

In the New York City airports, airlines are allotted a certain number of takeoff and landing rights, and if they don’t use them, they risk a share of their rights being given to a competitor. Due to the staffing shortages, the FAA is easing that penalty system through October 28. Airlines will be allowed to let some of their slots go unused during times of staff shortage, without threat of losing them later.

“The relief provided by the FAA during the peak of the summer season has provided stability at the NYC area airports,” the FAA said. The agency said canceled flights at the three big New York City-area airports from May 15 through June 30 fell 40% from the same period last year, while total flights out of those airports have reduced by 6%. The airlines intentionally limited the number of flights out, to ease the pressure on their staff and fleets.

Currently, the FAA is in a big push to hire and train approximately 3,000 new air traffic controllers, an attempt at a more reliable solution to the issue. But it’s a stressful job with a high burnout rate and a training period more than three years long that culls out many recruits. And the FAA lost a great deal of its funding, including all of the funding for the air traffic control academy, in a 2013 federal budget cut.