Transportation Secretary Warns US May Act Against Airlines Over Cancellations

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The U.S. government may take action against airlines on consumers’ behalf amid numerous flight cancellations in recent weeks, including more than 2,000 that were canceled on June 18 and early on June 19, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“That is happening to a lot of people, and that is exactly why we are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering,” Buttigieg said on June 18, saying that he had met with airline industry leaders a day earlier.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, stated that his office would first determine how airlines handle increased travel associated with the Fourth of July holiday before the federal government takes any action. He also didn’t elaborate on what his agency might do.

“Now we’re going to see how those steps measure up,” Buttigieg said.

Some 2,700 flights were canceled on Memorial Day weekend, according to data from FlightAware. FlightAware also said about 700 U.S. flights were scrapped as of early on June 19, after about 1,300 flights were canceled a day earlier.

Major airline companies have already signaled that they have cut numerous flights through Labor Day weekend over worker shortages.

Southwest Airlines has canceled over 20,000 flights this season, and Delta Air Lines has cut over 700 flights since late last month, saying it expects to cancel 100 flights per day between July 1 and Aug. 7 across North and South America.

letter posted by Delta pilots on June 16 said they had been flying a “record amount of overtime” hours amid cancellations.

“At the current rate, by this fall, our pilots will have flown more overtime in 2022 than in the entirety of 2018 and 2019 combined, our busiest years to date,” the pilots said in their letter. “We empathize and share in your frustration over the delays, cancellations, and disrupted travel plans you’ve experienced. We agree; it is unacceptable.”

By Jack Phillip

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