Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has had his hands full with airline issues this summer, recently said that the federal government needs to re-think the way it approaches regulation of the aviation industry.
“We’ve been due for a refresh on a lot of our rules toward airlines and when you get it right, the entire system is better off – certainly passengers are better off,” Buttigieg told Reuters. “(Airlines) have a responsibility to take good care of passengers and we have a responsibility to hold them accountable.”
So far, however, for all the good words from Buttigieg and other politicians, it’s been just that. Words, with little to no action.
In late June, Buttigieg – who himself was the victim of airline delays and cancellations, necessitating him to drive to New York instead of fly from Washington – threatened that the federal government had the power to compel airlines to hire more workers to deal with shortages. It hasn’t happened yet.
Two U.S. Senators also proposed a bill that airlines refund passengers in cash if a flight is canceled after they knew it wasn’t going to be able to go ahead as scheduled. That’s still up in the air.
Buttigieg did say the government has been more proactive and has completed 10 investigations into U.S. airlines and will follow up with enforcement action.
“We’re untying our own hands with the update on unfair and deceptive practices,” Buttigieg told Reuters.
Buttigieg added that he was encouraged by the progress airlines have made in the face of the pilot and staffing shortages. “But I think you can tell that they are not there yet. I think this summer provided a lot of reminders of why customers expect our department to have their back.”
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