Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Departures Resuming in Newark and Atlanta; Rep. Nancy Mace (R- SC) is Interviewed about Transportation and Congress; Ground Stop Lifted; Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) is Interviewed about Transportation. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 11, 2023 - 08:30   ET



LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS (D-CA): High winds, more power outages. So we're very, very concerned about what's to come.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Need the rain -

HARLOW: I know.

LEMON: But then it's so dry that it cannot absorb all that rain and that's bad for the trees, it's bad for structures as well because it can cause them to tumble.

HARLOW: We are thinking about you -

KOUNALAKIS: That's right. The -

HARLOW: Go ahead, governor.

KOUNALAKIS: The drainage system just can't handle any more water. We can't get the water out of the neighborhoods quickly enough. So, again, there's a bit of a reprieve in southern California where we saw some really dramatic images and situations yesterday. But it's raining up in the north. There's going to be more rain coming in, in the next few days here in southern California as well. So, we're working hard on the clean-up, but also to get ready for more rain.

HARLOW: Yes. Well, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, we are all thinking about you guys. Thank you for your time this morning.

KOUNALAKIS: Thank you. Good to be with you.

LEMON: Thank you very much, Governor.

The breaking news here on CNN, obviously you see we've been covering it throughout the hour, the FAA announcing and ordering all domestic departures on hold until 9:00 a.m. because of this system -- this NOTAM system that was down, experiencing problems.

Now here -- the new information is, it's getting close to 9:00 a.m., 9:30 here in the East. The FAA is now saying that they are starting to resume - OK. So I'm being told by producers, there's speaking to me as we're talking now, that there's a flight maybe taking off at Newark, but they're starting to resume some of the flights now, Atlanta and Newark Airports and at other airports and they will start, they believe, at 9:00 a.m. with more. They're making progress and restoring the system.

Our Pete Muntean, our aviation correspondent, reporting that an airline source familiar with the situation is telling CNN that they are hearing that information from the NOTAM system starting to flow right now but they want to ensure the stability of it. So, basically they're -- basically what we're saying to you is standby. They're not sure yet. OK. So, we'll keep you posted, live from more airports throughout the country on the other side of this break with the breaking news.



LEMON: All right, so here's the breaking news here on CNN, and the pictures you're looking at, that -- those are of passengers who were stuck in a plane or on a plane in London for almost three hours. It happened at Heathrow International Airport. And we're told the flight just took off. They were informed of the FAA delays prior to boarding that plane but proceeded to get on the aircraft anyway. Again, their flight just took off.

So, the information we're getting still, there is -- they're saying that the -- all domestic departures are on hold until 9:00 a.m. here in the United States. But at some airports we're also being told that starting to lift at, what is it, the airports, Newark and Atlanta airports. And they're hoping by 9:00 a.m. it will lift throughout the country here. But we're monitoring this. So far, as far as CNN's count, 3,700 flights have been delayed at least until 9:00 a.m. So, we're continue to following - continue -- we will continue to follow this here on CNN throughout the hours.

Want to get now to CNN's Amara Walker, who's is in Atlanta International Airport, Hartsfield, with the latest on that.

Amara, good morning to you. What are you seeing?


Well, first off, you know, what I'm seeing is not nearly as messy or as chaotic as you saw over the holiday season, but I have been talking to a few people here. And, by the way, keep in mind, it's a Wednesday, right, so it's the - it's a lower trafficked - you know, less busier travel day.

I spoke with a father who I just found out that his daughter's flight at 8:55 to California has been canceled, so he's going to go get her right now and, obviously, drive back home. This gentleman was saying that, you know, it's kind of like PTSD for him. I mean reliving the trauma because his son got stranded in the airport here at ATL over the holidays and he ended up having to drive to his location. So, an inconvenience.

You know, the mood here, you know, generally it's quiet at this time. And if you look at the departure board here behind me, you will see a lot of delays and a few cancellations. Many of those cancellations that we saw so far are with United Airlines. And those are for the flights that were taking off at around 8:00 or 9:00.

I also spoke with a woman here at the Southwest corner who said that she had a flight at 8:00 this morning that got pushed back to noon. Then she got booked on another flight at 2:00. Then that got pushed back to 6:00 p.m. So she says, you know what, forget it, I'm just going to go home and wait this out and see, you know, when this system glitch is repaired.

So, Atlanta International Airport also issuing a statement saying - and urging all passengers to make sure they check their flight status before heading hear.

So, all in all, it's a little quieter here as a result of it being a Wednesday. And, yes, we are seeing many delays and some cancellations at this point.


LEMON: All right, Amara Walker at Atlanta Hartsfield, thank you very much.

And, probably, it happened so early that people were able to get the information and did not head to the airport.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: And that was good advice, wait it out at home rather than at an airport.

HARLOW: Just wait for tomorrow if you can.

LEMON: Yes. Yes.

They're monitoring the situation in Washington, D.C., from the White House and beyond. Our Kaitlan Collins with more information on that.

Kaitlan, hello to you.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, President Biden has already been briefed this morning. He's watching this closely. So is the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg. Also lawmakers here on Capitol Hill.

Joining us this morning is Congresswoman Nancy Mace, who has sat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. So obviously has good perspective on what is happening here right now.

And big questions that I imagine you have -- this wasn't initially what we were going to be talking about this morning, but this major breaking news that is happening and affecting travelers nationwide. REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Right.

COLLINS: What questions do you have this morning about this?

MACE: Well, first of all, I want to say, safety first, right? It seems like and sounds like we don't have a lot of information right now, but putting the safety of American flyers first is the number one priority. And it sounds like that's what's happening right now.

But, we just went through this with Southwest Airlines with a technical glitch in their software. And we saw thousands and thousands of flights canceled every single day for at least a week when that was going on.


And I do have questions for the FAA. We'll have the FAA reauthorization this year. And I would like -- obviously we're all going to want to know what happened when and why to have more information. And it sounds like we're going to be having a lot of hearings on technology this legislative session.

COLLINS: Yes. So that reauthorization has to do with basically the funding for the FAA. Is your sense that their technology is quite outdated?

MACE: Well, we don't - we don't have a - we don't know a lot of information right now. This is all just breaking news. But that's going to be my first question is, one, what happened, two, is this because we're dealing with legacy and outdated technology and systems in 2022 and we want to make sure if we're going to holding Southwest's feet to the fire on that issue that we hold ourselves to the same standard.

But it's too early to say right now, but we will have to bring in the head of the FAA and others to explain to Congress and the American people what happened. People should be able to fly on a random Wednesday morning and know that their flights are going to take off safely and securely. And we have a lot of -- more questions than answer at this point.

COLLINS: Yes, a lot of questions that we have as well. Obviously, we're monitoring with the FAA to see what's going on.

MACE: Right.

COLLINS: If this is going to resume at 9:00 a.m.

We are here obviously on Capitol Hill. This is the first week of the new majority since last week with after all of the drama with the House speaker.

MACE: Right.

COLLINS: You still have a lot of questions for Speaker McCarthy about what was happening behind closed doors last week as he was making deals with the holdouts for him. Do you feel like you have a full scope of what he promised to people in order to get their vote, to become House speaker?

MACE: Certainly after our conference meeting yesterday we all have a better perspective on what was agreed to. Obviously, in the rules package, really nothing changed in the rules package. That's the first piece of misinformation I want to correct is that the only change to the rules in the way that the House will operate after a four or five day standoff last week was on the motion to vacate, going from five members down to one.

Now, there are other things that were negotiated. There were certain bills, like having a vote on the term limits bill, having a vote on a certain immigration and border bill, those were other deals that were cut. They'll all go through regular order. Even the talk of defense spending and appropriations, all of that will go through regular order.

But I do question what other private handshakes were made, what other promises were made behind closed doors that we don't yet quite know about. And we do know that some of those, a faction of the 20, went to leadership and there was some sort of document and there were questions about that. Well, what was that? A big rumor was, what's this addendum? Does it exist or does it not? And I think sunshine is the best medicine, you know? And the American people should know what deals were cut, or were not, to clamp down on any of those rumors or accusations that have been going around.

COLLINS: Yes. And being on a committee is a really powerful position. Those are decisions that are being made here in just a few hours, which Republicans are getting on which committees.

MACE: Right. Right.

COLLINS: Dusty Johnson, one of your colleagues, told me yesterday he does not believe Kevin McCarthy promised any specific member a seat on a specific committee, but is that your understanding?

MACE: That's what we've all been told and here's the --

COLLINS: But do you believe that?

MACE: Well, I mean, we'll see at the end of the day. We'll know in a few days. Once the steering committee has gone through the process, and we'll see what the committee ratios look like, we'll see how many members on each committee and who are on those committees. At the end of the day, that will be public. That information will be public. And we'll know hopefully in the next week or two how that shakes out.

But it's important that we come up here, and we work hard, and you earn your spots on committees. I mean this should not be a handout. People shouldn't jump to the front of the line, you know, for certain positions or for power and money.

And I said this last week, there was a small faction of the holdouts who were sends out fundraising emails and fundraising texts every time they voted against Kevin McCarthy. And they took a constitutional process and then politicized it. And I was deeply disappointing. I represent a purple district, about as purple as your jacket this morning, and I went home for 36 hours this weekend, Republicans, independents, Democrats, were all very frustrated about what looked like a public food fight last week.

COLLINS: Nancy Mace, well, I imagine that is going to continue for the next two years. So that will be - we'll have a lot of questions for you going forward. I know you have that committee process today. Thank you for taking time to weigh in on that and what's happening with the FAA and that breaking news.

MACE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Don, Poppy, obviously, you know, big questions that lawmakers have. As she was saying, the FAA is up for reauthorization, and so this will be one of the first things, she says, lawmakers are going to be asking about.

HARLOW: Yes, and will they confirm, Kaitlan, the guest you had on a few weeks ago - you know, will --

COLLINS: Phil Washington.

HARLOW: Will he be renominated and confirmed so there's a permanent head of the FAA to answer those lawmaker questions.

Thank you very much.

We are, you know, 16 minutes to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. That is when the FAA said all domestic flights would be grounded until. Some have started to takeoff, including at Newark and Atlanta. We'll give you an update on how this is proceeding, right after this.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just spoke with Buttigieg. They don't know what the cause is. But I was on the phone with him (INAUDIBLE). I told him to report directly to me when they find out. Aircraft can still land safely, just not take off right now. They don't know what the cause of it is. They expect to be able to in a couple hours we'll have (INAUDIBLE) and - and we'll respond at that time.

QUESTION: Sir, why can't your team -

QUESTION: Was it a cyberattack?

BIDEN: We don't know.


BIDEN: We'll find out.


LEMON: OK, so, back now with our breaking news. Obviously, the president of the United States there, and just to be transparent with you, that is trying to drown out the chopper noise in the background saying that he spoke - he said, I just spoke with Buttigieg, meaning the transportation secretary, Secretary Pete Buttigieg. And he says, they don't know the cause of it. They're checking into these -- this system failure that they have had this morning. And they are basically grounding or putting on hold, that's their language, all flights that are taking off in the United States, all departing flights, until 9:00 a.m., which is quickly approaching in about 10 minutes. So, we'll see if they move that back.

We are told, though, that at some airports, at Newark and Atlanta airports, they are starting to resume some operations, but we will check with that. But basically around the country, about 3,700 flights and counting have been grounded.


And we'll see if the cancelations start rolling in. But this is going to affect the entire system. Basically, a domino effect.

So, let's check in now with the person who's been giving us all this information now and also about the information you reported earlier from this NOTAM system is our Pete Muntean, our aviation correspondent.

It's starting to flow in, we are told, but that 9:00 a.m. time still firm right now as of this moment. So, what do you know?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: 8:50, now, Don, so we have ten minutes until the nationwide ground stop ends. The big question now is what will happen after that ground stop gets alleviated and whether or not this will get extended if the FAA has fully fixed this problem.

We are hearing from airline sources that they may implement their own ground delay programs, especially at some of the major hubs, as they work to get all of these flights out all at once.

Just looked at the ramp here, at the tarmac here at Reagan National Airport. It is dead. Completely still. There have been no takeoffs or landings here in some time. This will have a trickle-down effect nationwide.

So, think about these things. The fact that the planes are all out of position. They've been out of position for several hours now. That the crews are also out of position. They also have a mandatory day that they have to work for the airline per FAA regulations, meaning if they go beyond that time, they time out. They essentially have to go back to their hotel and wait for the next day. So, likely there will be a large impact here beyond this ground stop ending in just a few minutes. We are hearing from the FAA that it is repopulating this NOTAM system,

Notice to Air Missions, formerly known as Notice to Airmen. That is the specific information that pilots need to read about the airport that they're leaving, the route that they're taking and the airport that they're going to land at, especially about the things like whether or not runways are opened or closed, whether or not there are specific navigational aids that they need to land, whether or not those are working and in proper order. This is really critical stuff. It's essentially like a bulletin board that pilots read but they must read it per the regulations. It's in the regulations bible and verse.

LEMON: Hey, Pete, we have some new information. Sorry to cut you off. We have some new information Poppy needs to get in.


HARLOW: Just, let's show - the FAA just came out with this statement, Pete, as you were speaking. They say normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the United States following the overnight outage and the Notice to Air Mission system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted. There is your headline. Welcomed news for folks at the airport. Ground stop lifted, Pete, ahead of 9:00 a.m. They're continuing to look into the cause of the initial problem.

LEMON: But as of now, Pete, 4,000 plus flights, we're told, delayed. But it's been lifted. Seven hundred cancellations. So, while it has been lifted, there's still major problems to contend with today as it comes to flying here in the United States.

MUNTEAN: Yes, I'm just refreshing Flight Aware, 4,013 delays across the country. And the airlines now have to play this game of catch-up because there is really this domino effect, this cascading effect. When so many flights are delayed, that means that so many things are out of order. We have seen it.

Think about the Southwest issues of just a couple weeks ago when they had that back end issue on their own infrastructure where planes and crews were out of position because of a weather event that only lasted a day or so, but they had problems for days and days. It was really starting on the 23rd of December, didn't really end and resume normal operations at Southwest until the 30th of December. So, we have seen when things like this happen, they really cause problems that really linger. And so we will see as the airlines deal with this, especially at some of those major hubs.

We know that the airlines are now able to move flights at large airports like Newark and Atlanta, those are big hubs. We'll see, as this alleviates and the FAA says it now has the system online if this is fully back to normal sometime soon.


LEMON: Our aviation correspondent Pete Muntean live for us at Reagan International this morning. HARLOW: And it's nice to be able to get to the end of our broadcast

with some good news, the FAA has list lifted the ground stop. It's going to be messy, as Pete just said, but it is lifted and hopefully things start to get back to normal.

LEMON: Yes. And the second part of what you're seeing on the screen there, cancellations rise.

HARLOW: Yes, I know, cancellations rise.

LEMON: So, get ready.

HARLOW: We will have - yes, we'll have a final update for you in just a few minutes. Stay with us right here on CNN THIS MORNING.



COLLINS: All right, welcome back to CNN THIS MORNING.

The ground stop that has rocked the nation this morning has now just been lifted, effective immediately. This comes as lawmakers and cabinet secretaries up to the White House and President Biden are monitoring the situation here in Washington.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg saying that he is calling for an after-action report. He wants to know the root causes behind this.

We are here live on Capitol Hill with Congressman Rick Larsen, who is the ranking member on transportation and infrastructure committee. So, obviously, important perspective here.

You spoke with Secretary Buttigieg this morning. What did he tell you about what was going on?

REP. RICK LARSEN (D-WA): Well, the first thing I want to say is, this is a major disruption to the traveling public. The flipside of that is, it's important that the air system is safe, first and foremost. And what Secretary Buttigieg said this morning to me is he called for this ground stop because these Notices to Air Mission, these alerts that go out to pilots flying in the air, that system stops any messages out. So pilots were without one of the tools they have to understand the situational awareness in the air space. That was why we had to call the ground stop nationwide.

COLLINS: It is this after-action report - I mean people want to know what's led to this because it's obviously caused some cancellations. The delays are going to continue given they haven't been able to take off for the last hour or so.

What does an after-action report look like? What questions do you want answered from the FAA?

LARSEN: Yes, I can guarantee everyone, the members of Congress are going to want to see the - the results of that after action report. We don't know if this was just a technology issue or if it was something deeper, but if this is a -- if the underlying problem is that the technology at the FAA to spit out these NOTAMs, these Notices to Air Missions, if there's something wrong, if it's old - if it's old software, we need to know what that is, whether or not the FAA needs to upgrade the system or not. There's a lot of questions that we're - that I have, and I know that my colleague will have, about the root causes of this problem.

COLLINS: How -- what's the current state of the FAA infrastructure?

LARSEN: Say that again, please.

COLLINS: The current state of the FAA infrastructure, is it up to date?

LARSEN: Yes. Yes, I think that - I think it begs the question, this situation begs the question about the current state of the technology infrastructure at the FAA. We're going to need to take a look at that. We have an opportunity with the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill coming up this year to examine this very question and hopefully maybe if we need to make some improvements, make some funding increases so that it can improve the system.

COLLINS: OK, we'll be following that closely.


Congressman Rick Larsen, I know you ran over here to comment on this and give us some very important perspective after your conversation with Secretary Buttigieg. So, thank you for that and thank you for joining us.

LARSEN: Thanks, Kaitlan. Appreciate the opportunity.

COLLINS: Don, Poppy, obviously a lot of big questions here as this ground stop now has been lifted effective immediately. Big questions for the FAA going forward about what was behind this.

LEMON: The ground stop has been lifted, but they didn't lift the lawnmower stop behind you, Kaitlan. We could hear - that was also part of that interview wants to get in on it.

Kaitlan is in Washington. We're here in New York.

Kaitlan, are you back in Washington tomorrow as well?

COLLINS: We'll be back - well, hopefully I'm not flying back to New York. I'll be taking the train.

HARLOW: No, she's taking the train. I just booked you a ticket, sister.

LEMON: All right.


LEMON: OK, Kaitlan, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

CNN "NEWSROOM" starts right now, of course, with the breaking news as well.