Buttigieg Quizzes CEOs On Flight Cancellations

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says he will monitor airline performance over the July 4 weekend before making any decisions on government action on the persistent travel woes encountered by millions of passengers this year. Buttigieg’s commercial flight from Washington to New York was canceled a day after he met virtually with airline executives. He ended up driving. “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 told The Associated Press. The meeting was held to hear the execs’ plans to curb the chaos that has gripped the industry at times over past few months and reduce the delays and cancellations that have become common throughout the country.

Buttigieg was particularly interested in avoiding the mess that resulted from 2,800 flight cancellations over the Memorial Day weekend, and the CEOs described the steps they’re taking to prevent similar circumstances over the Fourth weekend. “Now we’re going to see how those steps measure up,” Buttigieg said. Those steps almost certainly involve canceling flights to ensure there is enough staff to handle the flights that do operate. The FAA and TSA are also short-staffed and that has contributed to the issues. 

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55 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know how you all are doing, but a particular major airline is 4/17 sor far this year for even getting me to the intended destination. Not just late, but at all. Three times we knew of the cancellations before departure and pivoted, once I was rerouted to a city close enough to make the appointment, but for the rest, our connecting flights were concelled while we were enroute with no same day options. Lots of rental cars and long overnight drives…. Been traveling for business for 30 years, I’ve never seen anything like this “modern era.”

    • Ok, everyone, there were six comments when I opened this page and this is the only one that addressed the topic without homophobic slurs and innuendo. Some of you I don’t recognize but a couple of you should know better. Absolutely won’t be tolerated. There’s plenty to discuss on this topic without irrelevant nonsense like this.
      Russ Niles

      • I’ve mentioned this a couple of times before, but some years ago comments got so frequently ugly that AVweb stopped all comments completely. Folks commenting need to be aware that it can happen.

      • Thank you for the moderation, Russ. Political slogans unsupported by facts and reason have turned the comments section of AVweb into a net negative experience. I would appreciate more moderation to turn this around.

      • No, there should be no place for any kind of slurs referencing anyone’s predilections, but it isn’t entirely irrelevant when those predilections are demonstrably the only reason someone was appointed to a position that affects our lives. This Secretary of Transportation had zero background in transportation (though I assume he has a driver’s license), and essentially no executive or management experience. His decision to go AWOL last summer just as the supply chain crisis was exploding was utterly irresponsible, and this temper tantrum over being personally inconvenienced by a canceled flight when his department is in large measure responsible for the pilot shortage is further evidence of his lack of relevant qualifications for the job he holds.

        When an administration makes “diversity” its primary criterion for executive appointments, and ignores actual experience or qualification in the areas being regulated, its shortcomings can’t be discussed without at least referencing that fact.

        • Sniping cowardly as anonymous period, completely ignoring a) common practices with literally every administration of the past and b) in particular the bizarre choices the immediate past president made across the board – including letting part of his family run the country -, while quite apparently not knowing anything about Buttigieg’s background does not lend you any credibility.

  2. Thanks, Russ, for spending extra time and energy on monitoring comments. We like a lively exchange of information and opinion, but name-calling and “phobic” slurs of any kind will be deleted. Readers can help by throttling back on this kind of language. The anonymity of social media helps fuel this behavior. Try voicing your opinion—pro or con—by making believe you are addressing your comments to a real person, because you are…

  3. Wow, thank you Russ. I have been reading AvWeb for several years and always found it interesting to read the comments about the various news articles. Even when I don’t necessarily agree with the posters, I usually respect their point of view, as most of them (in the past) have more experience with the subject that do I. Lately, however, it seems that the posts have become more negative and political in nature, and often stray from the actual subject into character assinations or unjustified slurs that have nothing to do with the original news article. I am not a fan of censorship, but it is getting to the point that I am considering just not tuning into AvWeb because I am tired of all the small-minded people who see this as a political platform to spit hate and unfounded rumors. I appreciate you taking the stance that people either stick to the topic or just keep quiet!

  4. Censorship is when the government punishes you for what you say. Choosing to moderate the comments section of a website by the private entity responsible for that website is not censorship. In this case, that entity is AVweb, and they have every right to choose to try to keep comments on topic and to not allow personal attacks as they see fit. There are an infinite number of online places people can vent about whatever they are feeling righteous indignation about on that day. Many of us avoid those places and appreciate places people can discuss a topic of mutual interest without the comments being hijacked by irrelevant rants. Thank you Russ.

    • Right On!, Richard W.!…. and moderators who do the difficult job often end up being attacked by participants who Wrongly BELIEVE that alteration of deletion of their profane and offensive posts violate their claimed First Amendment Rights…. Such Constitutional “lawyers”, despite their claim, actually only prove their ignorance of what that Amendment actually means and says.
      Thank you, Russ Niles!

  5. I’m reading on other news sites that the flight cancellations have continued this weekend. Since weather has not been an issue at any of the major hub airports, it will be interesting to see just what solutions the DOT secretary will come up with.

  6. Hello. I’m here from the US goverment( via South Bend, IA) And I am here to help. Someone please document the exact plan and policy affected that could possibly alleviate a large scale transportation cost issue. So hard to believe that greedy airlines might starve their even greedier shareholders of the gross profit revenues these mammoth operators generate. What’s next…banning stock buybacks ? Dying to see what verbal foolishness our faithful leaders force us to accept.

  7. A mysterious cabal known as Hertzenterprisebudgetavisthriftytrailwaysgreyhound holds the travel plans of millions – MILLIONS! – in their evil profiteering clutches, threatening the World’s Summer vacations and business meetings with disaster unless their extortion demands are met. Who can put an end to this global scheme of madness? 007 is in the midst of a reinvention crisis. Looks like the only available man for the job is Austin Powers.

  8. Until Pete Buttigieg had his flight canceled he didn’t even know there were problems even as the Transportation Secretary. He is NO different than the rest of us, and yes its frustrating when a flight is canceled. But he thinks HE can enable the government to “Take Action” and hire more employees is delusional thinking. Keep in mind this is the tool that can not handle the supply chain issues and now this. WE DO NOT NEED the government telling business what they can do…….the government and current administration is the entire reason we are all suffering in these times.

    • @Ronnie S.: Wrong again. While it’s a popular pastime to hammer at politicians and gov’t… the airways and the airlines are a public service just like a public utility and are regulated operations which require gov’t oversight. That oversight has the obligation to insure the safety, as well as the efficiency of carrying the public along Federal Airways.
      Blasting the public servants and politicians who are trying to make a difference is not helpful…. it’s only adding more static. The Transportation Secretary is trying to Do His Job…. Can you even name his predecessor..?? or what that person did to address or improve our lives?
      I didn’t think so…. just another worthless distracting whine, Ronnie.

      • Agree with Ronnie. MORE government regulation is NOT the answer. Just WHAT would the government mandate or DO? There is a precedent for this type of thinking–Italy’s Dictator Mussolini bragged “I made the trains run on time.” Yes–he did so–by cutting back “local” trains in favor of lines between more popular destinations. The trains became useless to most people, and they changed to cars and the “autostrada.” It was fairly easy to say that “the trains ran on time”–BECAUSE THERE WERE SO FEW LEFT!

        Is THIS “government regulation” the future for the world airline industry?

        “Central Planning” is a fixture of government regulation. It rarely works out well. For an airline-specific example, see Russia’s State-run airline–AEROFLOT. You won’t like it.

        • Yeah, I’ve noticed that the new trend is to blame companies for things the government is causing. I’m no Biden fan, but he can blame his predecessors going back a good while. It’s not all his fault.

          Trump tried mostly ineffectively, while simultaneously creating his own interventions. You have to go back to Reagan to find someone sincerely trying to stop the growth.

          The problem with most things nowadays is that making a better widget or service isn’t nearly as likely to make you better off as improving your relationships in your company, industry, and legislatures.

      • WRONG your self there Georgie boy……my point is that its now a problem because Pete Buttigieg was inconvenienced it now a national problem. And since when did you become the internet thought police? By you saying he is doing his job its completely ludicrous, he is NOT and is terrible at what he is doing. Sound like your a supporter of the administration.

        • Not at all, Ronnie-boy. If the Secy had experienced first-hand the woes the traveling public has suffered and NOT taken action… THAT would be dereliction. As it is, I’m glad that someone in the administration is taking Note!
          I am presently at an aviation convention in which some arrive by personal aircraft and some by airline. One pvt aircraft operator is a retired Delta pilot…whose wife was traveling separately by airline. HER flight was cancelled..forcing her to change flights…then THAT flight did not take her to the planned destination at all… A rental car was required to drive the 150+ miles so she could join her husband.
          I hope Secy Pete makes the Airline CEOs recognize that SOMEONE is watching! (unlike the previous admin which did ZIP!)

  9. From this morning’s headlines–You can’t make up comedy like this!

    “U.S. weighing penalizing airlines if flight disruptions continue”: Buttigieg

    It reminds me of an old Army saying–“The floggings will continue until morale improves……”

    Actually, the phrase dates back to the Viking rowed longships. A more modern citation is attributed to Captain Bligh (“Mutiny on the Bounty”). May misguided individuals like Buttigieg share the same fate–exile to a desert island!

  10. Incompetent, tyrannical, bureaucrats and politicians screw everything up, and then claim that they’re going to fix them. It failed for every Communist dictator in history, and yet every new one that comes along still thinks it will work for them.

    • Now it appears that AVWEB has turned into twitter and is deleting posts that they simply disagree with. I posted relevant to the article and made no mention of sexuality or any other silly crap. I stated that Im sure Buttigieg will solve the airline pilot shortage issue since he’s so brilliant that he gave a speech where he stated some highways were racist. I then mentioned that the disruptions the airline are having was in part due to the overreaction to COVID and the granting of thousands of early retirements to pilots. How was this in violation of any posting standard worthy of censure?

      • ‘I stated that Im sure Buttigieg will solve the airline pilot shortage issue since he’s so brilliant that he gave a speech where he stated some highways were racist.

        Yeah, and guns are killers and fences are anti-social and apples are oranges.

        Planners of the interstate highway system, which began to take shape after the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, routed some highways directly, and sometimes purposefully, through Black and brown communities. In some instances, the government took homes by eminent domain, leaving citizens homeless and choking off money flow and educational opportunities for those communities.

        So rather than supporting the federal government’s abusive past actions in this case, he wants to try to correct its misuse of power. Maybe not as brilliant as your point, but responsible and responsive to the abuse of governmental power, and a solid use of our taxpayer money.

        It’s what any red-blooded gummint hater would doubtless approve of.

        • The fact is highways built as part of the Federal Highways Act were routed through historically white neighborhoods as well. Much of the land was taken for the projects by eminent domain, just like in black or brown communities, and the people in the affected areas had their lives disrupted in comparable manner. I can show you where this happened in my own home town. I can also show you where a corridor for a future highway was established, the land purchased for pennies on the dollar or condemned or appropriated by eminent domain, and when it became clear federal funding was not forthcoming for this stretch to be part of the federal program, the land sat for decades until it was transferred by local government to minority-owned real estate companies for disposition. I saw this happen. I didn’t have to find out about it from a spun version created years after the fact. It’s wise, when using history to make one’s point, to use all of history instead of a version revised through cherry-picking.
          And it’s a really bad look to include personal snarks. It only shines light on smugness.

  11. I wonder how much of the man/woman power in the cockpits ‘er flight decks can be attributed to the airlines giving early retirements to pilots after the Covid slowdown in air travel. Many of those that reached 63, got an early pass with very lucrative packages to save the new folks on the block. Back in the old days you got furloughed…last in first out. Recently you could depend on the “Pay Protection Plan” regardless of seniority. But no worry, the upcoming recession will put a dent in air travel demand and the airlines may resort to the old man/woman power employment requirement via the old model.

  12. The airlines are dealing with a lot of issues, weather and pilot scheduling to name a two but a management consultant turned Mayor, turned secretary of transportation has little experience in dealing with transportation issues. Some issues are self inflicted such as the massive layoffs of experienced, agents, pilots and terminal managers which occurred during the airline consolidation period and more centralized control. From a scheduling standpoint, central control has not worked well and when things do go to hell and a handbag, the airline personnel cannot handle the ensuing chaos.

  13. We have ended up with the airline system the paying public wanted. After “deregulation” when President Carter was in office politicians have done everything possible to keep fares “cheap”. And the airlines foolishly followed along, so have all of the bankruptcies. Now that pilots are getting disillusioned about the job creating this “shortage”, you have pilot salaries finally beginning to match the responsibilities involved. You also have airline companies suckering customers to buy “cheap” tickets in excess of 6 months prior to departure in an effort to have some cash flow. Then the airlines cancel that flight with the usual upset customer who may not get to go where they paid for when they paid for. Until the airlines actually start charging fares that reflect the actual cost of business nothing will change. This thinking that the airline are a public utility without the regulation involved is BS. Airlines are a business just like any other. Unfortunately the bankruptcy laws allow the failed current airline model to linger on. What ever happened to all the funding the government provided to the airlines in the past 2 years that was supposed to avoid the mess the airlines find themselves in now? It is going to take a lot more than anything the DOT can dish out to fix all of the issues involved. Politicians are going to have to decide what they want. Cheap fares with all of the current issues or an airline system that actually works on time and as advertised. Both are not possible at the same time.

  14. It’s ATC as well, with facilities understaffed and also under qualified. My long time ATC contact (management at BOS ARTCC) said there are controllers that aren’t fully qualified to handle a full load working scopes across the country.

    Because training takes time, and predicting demand is extremely difficult right now, coming out of the pandemic was always going to be challenging. It will be sorted in due course, but it’s going to take a couple of years, and the market will solve the airline side of the equation. The government needs to focus on their end operationally, instead of virtue signaling that they are “doing something”.

    • Speaking for myself and not for the agency here….my own “opinion”
      Jack its goes well beyond just capability. There once was a time when the majority of the FAA were people with experience/pre-job training….military and specialty schools. This new generation of off the street hires coupled with their new outlook on work life balance are problematic. COVID exacerbated an already super real problem with our staffing, and that was our trainee pool to fill the ranks from attrition. In my almost 30 year career I’ve never witnessed or heard of an ATC trainee and/or employee resign from the agency. In my facility alone I’ve witnessed 4 in the last 2 years. The agency is well beyond its ability to keep up with attrition. In 5-10 years the agency will experience a controller shortage nothing like the aviation community ever could have imagined. Jacksonville Center issues are a mere glimpse at what’s to come. A significant number of facilities are already working 6 day work weeks to fill staffing needs. Its not an if but a when that this problem gets worse than it is now.

  15. Yet more examples of people that actually believe that Big Government is effective, and actually helps by instituting ever more regulations.

    Just HOW would Mr. Buttigieg “help”? Creating more pilots overnight? Having the Military fly the civil airline aircraft? (Side note: President Rooseveldt tried that in the 1930s with air mail–the result was carnage–and the program was rescinded after only 4 months–if anyone has a direct line to Mr. Buttigieg, perhaps he should be warned that this is not an option!)

    The REALITY is that there is NOTHING the government can do to create enough experienced airline pilots this fast–and the faster that they are aware of that fact, the better off we will all be. Always looking for an “UP SIDE” to a problem–perhaps this will demonstrate that other than the old admonition that “Government should fight wars and deliver the mail”–there is little that government can to better than Capitalism (and with the success of private mail and package delivery companies–I guess we ought to remove the “mail reference”! (smile)

  16. 30 comments in less than 5 hours–one of the most-commented I’ve ever seen–yet AVWEB took down the thread on the site (I was able to find it on “history” on my browser).

    Perhaps the individual that called it “twitter effect” had an insight………the criticism of Buttegeig and the inability of government to HELP the issue must have touched a nerve–something the AVWEB WE ARE USED TO WOULD NEVER HAVE DONE.

    “AVWEB–formerly a place where thoughts and opinions could be shared freely–now bowing to the “Politically Correct.” AVWEB–we thought we knew Ye”

      • Yet Big Government apologists have multiple platforms for their “best intentions”–and little or no accountability when those programs fail.

        I guess it’s OK if those failed programs were done “in the public interest”–even if the programs were ineffectual money and time wasters that FAILED to address the problem.

        Buttigeig is the perfect “poster boy” for “The GOVERNMENT is going to do SOMETHING” (yet just what the government is going to do is never specified).

        Perhaps these “heads of agencies” should take the Hippocratic Oath–“FIRST–DO NO HARM”–they rarely make things better, but nearly ALWAYS end up increasing the size and funding for their department. Any corporate executive that ineffective would soon be looking for another job.

    • AVweb has always been a place for free expression of ideas without making fun (or worse) of the people who put forth those ideas. The juvenile comments directed at the Secretary in the comments I unapproved were not only offensive, they were irrelevant. It’s about being polite and respectful more than anything else. I can’t believe I have to try to explain it. Free speech doesn’t mean you get to spew hateful bullshit about anyone.

  17. @Chris K.
    I’m sure there were many reliable anecdotal examples from those days that ran contrary to the pervasive intent of the government abuse, and I acknowledge them. I left out many of those also on the road to picking cherries, like how the military had input into the designing to insure a steady stream of poorly educated and disadvantaged youths for their ranks, etc. And I can tell ya, do the older vets have their stories, skin color aside on that. Almost inconceivable, unless of course one considers slavery or Japanese internment.

    Same point remains – do we want government accountable at every level or not and give credit where it is due when corrections are attempted? Well, here’s been a good example.

    Those who hate government are involved in a form of self-loathing, because our government is self-governing, so if you hate government, you’re basically hating yourself, and that’s a really bad look, too.

    And thanks Russ and Tim.

    • Whats the name of the planet you live on where government is self governing? On Earth in a country we call America, we have a federal and state government system that is administratively run by un-elected fools who care more about esoteric special interest than they do about the governed. On Earth, in America, we have a system where these same unelected fools can decide for themselves whatever they want the original intent of a congressional law to be not withstanding the actual intent or wording and rule their administrative kingdom as THEY see fit and THEY alone. Also on Earth, we have a group of people who are upset by a differing opinion and those individuals define opposing opinion as “HATE”.

    • That’s just a terrible argument. You use the word “self” with two distinctly different meanings and then equivocate. We have serious issues in this country, and making bad faith arguments to insult those you disagree with is not constructive.

      I believe in good government. I also believe our government has become too large and too powerful which is inefficient and leads to bad outcomes. There’s nothing inconsistent there.

      How about you treat the smaller government people as if they aren’t crazed, and they can treat you like you aren’t a Marxist or some other extreme?

  18. There are some fixes that government could institute immediately to help solve the pilot problem, such as eliminating the 1500 hour rule (reduce it down substantially) for being allowed on the flight deck. The airlines say they cannot find workers. There is always a simple solution to that problem — make the pay and benefits attractive, and charge users accordingly, If the true costs go up, fewer people will fly and the problem is self solving. These days, people want dependable service and are willing to pay for it but can’t find any. Airlines like Southwest, Alaska and others used to know this but have somehow forgotten, and blame employees instead of management.

  19. Only the government’s – in the USA and in other countries – can out a stop to this madness.
    Airlines know how many pilots and cabin crew they have. Thus they know how many flights they can launch.
    Airlines sell tickets to thousands of flights they KNOW they cannot fly, without any consequences or punishment.
    The current situation encourage airlines to collect money from selling tickets, they are not forced to pay back (not immidiately anyway) and the chaos is actually good for them.
    Government’s can limit the number of flights airlines offer based on their available resources. Government’s can force airlines to return immidiately the cost of tickets. Government’s can force airlines to compensate passangers without going through expensive and years-long trials.
    But it seems government’s are not willing to take on this battle.
    The chaotic situation will get much worse before it gets better. There is no incentive or reward for getting better.

  20. Marxist? that gave me and the fam a chuckle.
    Government should simply fit the needs of the populace, large or small, making it size-free. Like how my belt adjusts to my waistline…

    As far as hate directed toward government, uh, it’s our creation, and reflects exactly what our wishes and intentions are of it, whether we can acknowledge and accept that or not.

    So yeah, actually, it can even be more than self-criticism, it’s practically suicidal to blame our own creation because we’re too ineffectual in our stewardship of it.

    • Well put!

      The problem IS our stewardship of government–we tend to forget that government is supposed to work for US–rather than the other way around.

      The natural tendency of government is to grow larger–and rarely restrains itself. That results in government GROWING ITSELF instead of RESTRAINING ITSELF–and there are no checks and balances on government growth.

    • You still don’t see you are making a basic error? I am not a part of your “We”. Perhaps you are not either, and just do not see it. On top of that, you make a statement about what size it should be. Well, it should be smaller, yet both major parties seem to only make it larger. Supposedly the voters decide, but they keep voting for more, as I keep voting and arguing for less.

      The US government has become detached from its founding in a basic way, and there’s a bipartisan agreement that there is no current way to fix it because everyone is afraid to call a Constitutional Convention, this is complicated by the Federal Bureaucracy having grown much too large and powerful, and the States having lost too much power.

      It may be fixed, but it will take decades (even as we now have two Democrat appointees on the Supreme Court admitting the FedSoc has some good points). In the meantime, it seems the middle cannot hold, and we are being run by the extremists. We can laugh at them when they call each other Hitler and Stalin, but the labels are too close to accurate in too many ways. Too much power is too much long before you get to massacres (or you’d never get there.)

      Everyone here should be very familiar with the consequences of too much regulation and government interference by looking at the ramp at their field. Why do you think energy or healthcare or education or housing are all in such a state? I rarely hear too much complaint about clothing, tools, sports equipment, packaging, or any number of less regulated and interfered with parts of the economy.

      Well, enjoy your next fill up at the gas station assuming your car keeps running. Spare parts might be next.

  21. “Only the government’s – in the USA and in other countries – can out a stop to this madness.” Are you REALLY advocating turning over management of the airlines to government–the very people that are known for bloated budgets, years of “studying” problems without solving them, and are well-reknown for inefficiency? If so, try the Russian National Airline–Aeroflot!

    No–the marketplace beats centralized government every time–from UPS vs. government mail–to government run airlines–to government run aircraft manufacturers. Want an example of “government efficiency”? Look at government-run auto industry–the Yugo and Trabant are good examples of government failures. Why stop at automobiles–how about government aircraft factories (would you advocate riding on government-produced aircraft, as the Russians do?) How about depending on government collective farms for our food supply, as the Communist countries do?