Minister of transport Pete Buttigieg Called the nationwide spike in flight cancellations and delays “unacceptable” and warned airlines his department could take action if airlines don’t offer more transparency about why the disruptions are happening.
Buttigieg wrote letters to several US airline CEOs this week, calling the level of disruption Americans have experienced this summer “unacceptable.”
Buttigieg urged airline CEOs to at least provide accommodation for passengers stranded overnight at an airport and to issue meal vouchers for delays of three hours or more if the disruption is caused by something within the airline’s control .
That traffic department says the letters were sent to CEOs of 10 US airlines, including the majors, their regional affiliates and low-cost carriers.
Buttigieg’s agency recently proposed rules on refunds for passengers whose flights are canceled or postponed. He told CEOs the department is considering additional rules “that would further expand the rights of passengers experiencing disruption.”
Buttigieg has been at odds with airlines since late spring over high numbers of cancellations and delays, but said in his letter he appreciated that airlines have increased recruitment and cut schedules to accommodate the number of flights that they can cope with better.
A spokeswoman for Airlines for America, a trade group whose members include American, United, Delta and Southwest, said the airlines “strive to provide the best possible customer service.” She said airlines are keen to navigate challenges including a tight labor market.
Staff shortages cause a significant amount flight cancellations and delays throughout the summer, which analysts say would have been worse had airlines not cut flight schedules.
Earlier this summer, Nicholas Calio, president of trade group Airlines for America, said its member airlines were cutting 15% of the flights they originally scheduled for August, while increasing hiring and training to combat problems and become more reliable for passengers .
Problems persist as demand increases pre-pandemic levelwhich is forcing some airlines to scale back their fall schedule.
The Associated Press contributed to this report