Recent winter storms forced airlines to delay or cancel thousands of flights over the past week, but Southwest Airlines was by far the most affected.
After travelers were stranded and often separated from their luggage in airports nationwide, the company’s CEO released an apologetic statement.
In a subsequent interview, Bob Jordan advised that the airline planned to execute a normal schedule with “minimal disruptions” as of Friday.
“I’m watching the stats and we’ve launched the East Coast and have a great operation underway. It’s our full schedule, 3,900 plus flights,” the executive said. “I’m very confident we’ll operate a really tight operation today.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is investigating the situation to determine what, if any, systemic failures contributed to the widespread disruptions.
“We’ve never seen a situation, at least not on my watch, with this volume of disruptions, so this is going to take an extraordinary level of effort by Southwest,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “And we will mount an extraordinary effort to make sure that they’re meeting their obligations.”
Of course, some of his fellow leftists are pointing a finger at him for not wielding sufficient government power to hold Southwest Airlines accountable.
Southwest's flight delays & cancellations are beyond unacceptable. This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout & will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders. @USDOT must hold Southwest's CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2022
In an interview on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) called Buttigieg out by name, asserting that he “needs to make clear that he has the authority to go after the airlines for unfair and deceptive practices.”
Khanna added that the Biden administration cabinet secretary “needs to lay out a framework for what the consequences will be for canceled flights, understaffing, and misrepresentations to passengers.”
Among Buttigieg’s other prominent critics was Jacobin editor David Sirota, who referenced mounting signs that the airline industry was rife with customer and employee mistreatment, calling on the Transportation Department to “impose fines on airlines that delay or cancel flights for reasons that have nothing to do with the weather.”
Pilot and aviation attorney Sal Lagonia also weighed in on Southwest’s “inexcusable” string of flight cancellations, accusing Buttigieg of being “either unable or unwilling to give his full effort in tackling these issues which are a key component to his department.”