Senators and 38 attorneys general have been demanding Buttigieg take action on airlines for months

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is facing fierce criticism from his own side of the political aisle over the thousands of Southwest flight cancellations that occurred around Christmas.

Buttigieg boasts the “residual authority to crack down on the airline practice of having insufficient crew staffing to meet the schedules they publish and the tickets,” which critics believe is the root cause of such cancellations, according to The American Prospect.

But he’s reportedly done nothing about the issue of airline cancellations, despite congressional Democrats nipping at his heels for six months, if not longer.

Indeed, according to Rep. Ro Khanna, half a year ago he and Sen. Bernie Sanders requested that Buttigieg start imposing “fines & penalties on airlines for cancelling flights.”

But apparently, Buttigieg ignored their recommendations.

On June 28th, to be exact, Sanders sent a letter to Buttigieg accusing airlines of “intentionally scheduling flights they can’t staff due to a pilot shortage.”

“That is simply unacceptable. Let’s be clear. During the pandemic, when air travel came to a near halt, U.S. taxpayers came to the rescue and gave $54 billion to the airline industry. The top eight airlines alone received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer assistance from the federal government,” the letter reads.

“Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, all of us have a responsibility to make sure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect, not contempt. Therefore, I am urging you to take the following actions,” it continues.

The actions included requiring airlines to “refund passengers for flights that have been delayed over an hour,” imposing fines “on airlines for flights that are delayed more than two hours,” and imposing fines as high as $55,000 per passenger “for scheduling flights that they are unable to properly staff.”

Two days later, on June 30th, Khana dispatched his own letter to Buttigieg:

“We are two years into the pandemic and my constituents are still seeing mass cancellations near my congressional district at San Jose Airport, Oakland International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport,” he wrote.

“Airports across the country are upending millions of Americans travel plans for weddings, reunions, funerals, long-awaited vacations, and other gatherings. The time to reign in the excesses of the airline industry and protect American travelers is now,” he added.

He and Sanders aren’t alone in their complaints about Buttigieg.

Four months ago, a whopping 38 state attorneys general wrote their own letter to Congress accusing the Department of Transportation of having “failed to respond and to provide appropriate recourse” for all the flight cancellations and other issues that began cropping up this past summer.

“Americans are justifiably frustrated that federal government agencies charged with overseeing airline consumer protection are unable or unwilling to hold the airline industry accountable and to swiftly investigate complaints submitted to the US DOT,” their letter reads.

“This vacuum of oversight allows airlines to mistreat consumers and leaves consumers without effective redress. Moreover, given the increased level of concentration in the airline industry and the decreased levels of competition, the ability of the marketplace to punish or reward industry behavior that harms or helps consumers is lessened, increasing the importance of effective enforcement of consumer protection requirements,” it continues.

The AGs then asked Congress to authorize them to basically do Buttigieg’s job for him.

“For airline consumers to be properly protected, we urge Congress to take meaningful action and pass legislation that would authorize state attorneys general to enforce our state and federal consumer protection laws governing the airline industry,” they wrote.


As it stands, currently “Buttigieg and the Department of Transportation are the primary regulator over airlines thanks to a 44-year-old law preempting state consumer protection authority,” according to The American Prospect.

Dovetailing back to the present, Buttigieg is now facing renewed, bipartisan heat over his habitual “incompetence,” as one critic put it.

He’s also facing some mockery given his habit of blaming everything on racism.


Republished with permission from American Wire News Service


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