Joe Biden’s Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is attracting widespread criticism over the recent meltdown of Southwest Airlines that caused thousands of passengers to miss their flights. Experts suggest that the situation could have been completely avoided.
The company canceled around two-thirds of flights amid the busy Christmas and new-year travel season blaming severe winter weather when other airlines were operating as per usual schedule.
As of publishing this article, the company has announced plans to resume normal operations starting Friday. Executives have assured that the company will reimburse all passengers that missed their flights along with those who were forced to change their plans last minute and stay in hotels, rent cars, or purchase tickets with other carriers.
Buttigieg wrote a letter to Southwest CEO Bob Jordan calling the level of disruption “unacceptable” and warned that his agency would be using “the fullest extent of its investigative and enforcement powers” to ensure customers are reimbursed.
Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders called the Transportation Department to hold Bob Jordan “accountable for his greed and incompetence.
Southwest's flight delays & cancellations are beyond unacceptable. This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout & will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders. @USDOT must hold Southwest's CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2022
California Democrat Congressman Rep. Ro Khanna reflected on Senator Sanders’ call and announced that he along with Sen. Sanders had asked Secretary Buttigieg to implement fines and penalties on airlines that cancel their flights “nearly six months ago”
“Why were these recommendations not followed?” the congressman asked. “This mess with Southwest could have been avoided.” he suggested.
Nearly six months ago @BernieSanders & I called for Buttigieg to implement fines & penalties on airlines for cancelling flights. Why were these recommendations not followed? This mess with Southwest could have been avoided. We need bold action. https://t.co/wVH4iAezfx
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) December 29, 2022
Records revealed that Southwest had canceled nearly 57% of its flights on Thursday whereas other companies had less than 1% of cancelations.
Sen. Sanders in his June letter to Sec. Buttigieg remarked that the airline industry had received $54 billion in relief during the lockdown-induced recession under the Biden administration. The letter further asked the Transportation Department to “promptly refund passengers for flights that have been delayed over an hour,” as well as impose fines on airlines for “flights that are delayed more than two hours” and for “scheduling flights that they are unable to properly staff.”
“Taxpayers bailed out the airline industry during their time of need,” Sanders wrote. “It is the responsibility of the airline industry and the Department of Transportation to ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the flying public and crew members are able to get to their destinations on time and without delay.”
Another Democrat official, Nina Turner, a former Ohio State Senator and longtime ally of Sen. Sanders also shared views to hold Buttigieg accountable for the Southwest Christmas meltdown. “This is incompetence. This is what placing unqualified people in positions of power to do the bidding of corporations will get you,” she contended. “There is a direct line from Secretary Buttigieg to the Southwest Airlines debacle and we shouldn’t pretend there isn’t.”
This is incompetence. This is what placing unqualified people in positions of power to do the bidding of corporations will get you.
There is a direct line from Secretary Buttigeig to the Southwest Airlines debacle and we shouldn’t pretend there isn’t.
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) December 28, 2022
Buttigieg, a former presidential challenger to Joe Biden was also the subject of multiple controversies for taking long paid leaves after adopting twins with his gay partner as the American economy was dealing with a historical supply chain crisis.
During the recent rail strike across the nation, the Biden transportation secretary was caught vacationing in Portugal and has reportedly used taxpayer-funded private jets at least 18 times since taking office despite being a vocal supporter of the climate change movement.
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