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Buttigieg: U.S. may act against airlines on consumers’ behalf

Buttigieg mentioned his division might take enforcement actions against airlines that fail to reside as much as consumer-protection requirements. But first, he mentioned, he desires to see whether or not there are main flight disruptions over the July Fourth vacation weekend and the remainder of the summer time.

Enforcement actions can ends in fines, though they are typically small. Air Canada agreed to pay a $2 million high-quality final yr over gradual refunds.

During Thursday’s digital assembly, airline executives described steps they’re taking to keep away from a repeat of the Memorial Day weekend, when about 2,800 flights had been canceled. “Now we’re going to see how those steps measure up,” Buttigieg mentioned.

Travel is again. On Friday, greater than 2.4 million individuals passed through security checkpoints at U.S. airports, coming inside about 12,500 of breaking the pandemic-era excessive recorded on the Sunday after Thanksgiving final yr.

The file certainly would have been damaged had airlines not canceled 1,400 flights, a lot of them as a result of thunderstorms hit components of the East Coast. A day earlier, airlines scrubbed greater than 1,700 flights, in keeping with monitoring service FlightAware.

Weather is all the time a wild card in relation to flying in summer time, however airlines have additionally acknowledged staffing shortages as journey roared again sooner than anticipated from pandemic lows. Airlines are scrambling to rent pilots and different employees to interchange staff whom they inspired to stop after the pandemic hit.

It takes months to rent and prepare a pilot to satisfy federal security requirements, however the Transportation Department sees no motive the airlines can not instantly add customer-service representatives to assist passengers rebook if their flight is canceled.

The authorities has its personal staffing challenges.

Shortages on the Federal Aviation Administration, a part of Buttigieg’s division, have contributed to flight delays in Florida. The FAA guarantees to extend staffing there. The Transportation Security Administration, an company inside the Department of Homeland Security, has created a roving drive of 1,000 screeners who could be dispatched to airports the place checkpoint traces get too lengthy.

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