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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Buttigieg announces new airline investigations as passenger dissatisfaction mounts

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg addressed the continuing trend of delayed and canceled airline flights, stating that the Biden administration is addressing the matter.

Speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” Buttigieg said that while he’s seen some improvement, it’s still “not at an acceptable level.” He pointed to incidents of airlines not only canceling flights, but then failing to give passengers refunds.

“We have just concluded another 10 airline investigations into these issues and have launched another 10 or more that we are going to continue to make sure consumers and passengers are protected,” Buttigieg said.

Host Mike Emanuel noted that there is a shortage of pilots, and while current law requires US commercial pilots to retire before age 65, lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham are considering raising it to 67. Buttigieg strongly opposed it. to this.

“These retirement ages exist for a reason, and the reason is security. I am not going to agree to anything that could compromise security,” she said. “Now what is clearly the case is that we need to cultivate, train and support a new generation of qualified pilots.”

Emanuel pointed to an NBC News report that noted that by 2029 there will be no Baby Boomer generation pilots legally allowed to fly a commercial airliner. 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’re supporting that with FAA programs that support the high school and college curriculum to get into aviation, and of course ultimately it will be up to the airlines and those employers to hire and retain great talent.”

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

In addition to the pilot shortage, there is also the issue of having enough air traffic control personnel. United Airlines CEO Jon Roitman said Thursday in a letter to employees that the federal government bears part of the blame for the delays and cancellations because the Federal Aviation Administration did not adequately address staffing issues. .

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

The FAA rejected this narrative.

“It is unfortunate to see United Airlines conflate weather-related Air Traffic Control measures with ATC staffing issues, which could misleadingly imply that most of those situations are the result of FAA staffing.”

World Nation News Desk
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