Buttigieg announces new airline investigations

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed the continuing trend of delayed and canceled airline flights, saying the Biden administration is dealing with the issue.

Speaking to ‘Fox News Sunday’, Buttigieg said while he had seen some improvement it was still ‘not at an acceptable level’. He pointed to incidents of airlines not only canceling flights but then failing to reimburse passengers.

“We have just concluded ten more airline investigations into these issues and have launched another ten which we will continue to ensure consumers and passengers are protected,” Buttigieg said.

Host Mike Emanuel noted that there is a shortage of pilots, and although current law requires US commercial pilots to retire at age 65, lawmakers like Senator Lindsey Graham are considering raising that figure to 67. year. Buttigieg strongly opposed it.

“These retirement ages are there for a reason, and the reason is security. I will not agree to anything that could compromise security,” he said. “Now what is clearly the case is that we need to cultivate, train and support a new generation of skilled riders.”

Emanuel pointed to an NBC News report which observed that by 2029, there will be no Baby Boomer generation pilots legally licensed to fly commercial aircraft. Buttigieg was not swayed by this.

“The answer is not to keep the baby boomer generation in the cockpit indefinitely,” he said. “The answer is to make sure we have as many good drivers ready to take their place, to have a stronger pipeline. We support that with FAA programs that support high school and college programs to get into aviation, and of course ultimately it will be up to the airlines and those employers to hire and retain excellent talent.

Passengers are fed up with the airlines’ ongoing problems.
John Nacion/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

In addition to a shortage of pilots, there is also a problem of sufficient air traffic control personnel. United Airlines CEO Jon Roitman said in a letter to employees on Thursday that the federal government was partly responsible for delays and cancellations due to the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to properly address personnel issues.

“We estimate that more than 50% of our delay minutes and 75% of our cancellations over the past four months were due to FAA traffic management initiatives – these have been particularly acute in Newark and Florida” , Roitman said, according to Business Insider. “These ATC challenges can not only disrupt the schedule, but they also waste crew time throughout the month.”

The FAA rejected this account.

“It is unfortunate to see United Airlines confusing weather-related air traffic control measures with ATC personnel issues, which could misleadingly imply that a majority of these situations are the result of FAA personnel. “

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