Transportation Secretary Buttigieg On Airline Cancellations
As we’ve discussed on Airline Pilot Central before, airlines are still struggling to deal with the combination of COVID-era furloughs/retirements and a new surge of summer travel. This unpreparedness has led to cancellations and delays across the country.
As the airline carriers scramble for answers to staff shortages and other problems, many Americans have asked if the federal government can do anything to help. After all, the aviation industry is already one that is highly regulated by the FAA.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
One government official that could potentially take action to help alleviate the aviation woes is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Secretary Buttigieg is probably best-known for his own attempt at capturing the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020 and helping to nominate now-President Biden.
Secretary Buttigieg had a call with the CEOs of major airline carriers and pleaded with them to make necessary adjustments to their flight schedules before the busy summer travel season. According to a source that spoke with CNN, Buttigieg asked the representatives of the airlines to discuss their plans to help reduce the rolling cancellations that will inevitably occur over the July 4th weekend.
Florida – A Problem Area?
Buttigieg specifically addressed Florida’s aviation woes. Airlines have expressed concern that Florida, a vacation destination and hotspot for summer travel, is not ready for the travel season.
The FAA responded that it will provide additional air traffic controllers to the Sunshine State to help ease the pain points. The airlines, for their part, pledged to use alternate routes to get planes and passengers where they need to go.
Stronger Government Intervention on the Table
A mere few days after Buttigieg’s call with airline CEOs, his own flight was cancelled, and he decided to drive from Washington to New York.
After his own cancellation problems, Buttigieg made a stronger statement about reducing flight cancellations. Buttigieg stated that the Department of Transportation does indeed have the authority to take action against airlines who are not complying with consumer-protection regulations. And this action could include a requirement for airlines to hire more staff.
Buttigieg also stated that his office would take a wait-and-see approach to regulating the airlines, after assessing the state of aviation in the wake of the July 4th holiday,.