Buttigieg’s DOT brewing another Biden crisis as FAA moves to ‘pull down’ summer flights

It appears Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is determined to continue his stunning streak of DOT disasters.

In order to avoid a repeat of January’s disastrous grounding of all flights by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over a glitch in its NOTAM system — renamed by Buttigieg the “Notice to Air Missions” to soften its less inclusive “Notice to Airmen” moniker — the FAA, which falls under Buttigieg’s Department of Transportation, announced last week a new plan that would reduce by up to 10% flight requirements for airlines’ takeoff and landing rights.

The action is meant to avoid congestion in Washington, D.C., and in the New York City area, according to CNBC.

The reason given for a decision that will clearly dig into the airlines’ bottom line is an air traffic controller staffing shortage.

Among those airlines that will be most impacted is JetBlue, which calls New York City home. The overwhelming majority of its flights either take off or land in the Big Apple or transit its airspace.

As a result of the FAA’s announcement, with spring in the air and summer fast approaching, JetBlue is about to cut loads of weekly flights in the New York City area.

According to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, it’s a move the airline does not want to make.

“We don’t want to pull down flights. I’m sure no airline wants to pull down flights,” Hayes told CNBC. “But if we don’t cut them the system is not going to be workable this summer.”

“We’re staffed, we’ve already trained pilots, we’re paying for pilots, we’ve bought airplanes, we’re paying for gates and slots,” Hayes said. “This is going to have a very significant financial impact on JetBlue and our customers.”

Already, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are requesting waivers, with Delta asking the FAA to give back up to 10% of Delta’s slots or operating times at Washington Reagan National Airport and at three major airports in New York City.

JetBlue has yet to make its own waiver request, but it is on its “to-do” list. The airline, which has until April 30 to make the request, says it will provide an update to its customers as soon as possible.

“The reduction in flights means fewer options for travelers, higher demand for available seats, and likely higher prices for Americans who’ve already seen fares increase 26.5 percent over the last 12 months,” writes Spencer Brown for Townhall.

Brown notes that “air travel demand always spikes in the summer” and Americans are flying more often since the airlines have ended their COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.

“And last summer saw delays and disruptions as a result of already-existing ATC staffing issues,” Brown reminds readers.

“There’s no reason why the FAA, Buttigieg, or Biden wouldn’t have known there’d be issues in the upcoming summer travel season unless staffing shortfalls were addressed,” he continues. “Yet, they apparently did not do anything to avert the problem, at least nothing that made a difference, and now flight schedules in America’s largest city and the nation’s capital are being slashed.”

“Will there be any accountability for Biden administration officials in charge of America’s air transportation system?” Brown asks. “You’ll likely wait longer for that than you will for a departure from LaGuardia this summer.”

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