Buttigieg considers punishing airlines for flight disruptions as passengers are getting stranded in airports for over 24 hours
- US airlines have experienced major disruptions in recent weeks with delays and cancellations.
- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the US may take enforcement action against airlines.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is weighing potential consequences for airlines as thousands of flight delays and cancellations have left Americans across the US frustrated or stranded.
"That is happening to a lot of people, and that is exactly why we are paying close attention here to what can be done and how to make sure that the airlines are delivering," Buttigieg said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.
The transportation secretary experienced the disruptions firsthand on Friday when his flight from Washington to New York was cancelled and he had to drive instead.
Pending airlines' performance over the Fourth of July, the Department of Transportation could choose to take enforcement action if consumer-protection standards are not met, Buttigieg told AP. The outlet reported such action could include fines but that fines of this type have historically been small, citing a $2 million fine issued to Air Canada in 2021 for slow refunds.
Buttigieg's remarks came two days after he met with airline CEOs to press them on recent disruptions and urge them to find ways to stick to summer flight schedules, especially ahead of July 4. The virtual meeting came after more than 2,500 flights were cancelled in the US over Memorial Day weekend in May.
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The warning to airlines also came as dozens of Delta passengers were stranded at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for more than 24 hours as over 6,000 flights were delayed or cancelled between Friday and Saturday.
A Delta spokesperson told Insider's Bethany Biron on Saturday their operations were impacted by factors that include "challenges with air traffic control, weather, and unscheduled absences in some work groups." Delta has been hit particularly hard with disruptions, having cancelled more flights over Memorial Day than any other airline.
The Department of Transportation and Delta did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment on the secretary's recent comments.
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