- US airlines have been dealing with major disruptions in recent weeks with delays and cancellations.
- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the US could take enforcement action against airlines.
- His comments came as dozens of Delta passengers were trapped at the Atlanta airport for more than a day.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg weighs the potential impact on airlines as thousands of flight delays and cancellations have left Americans frustrated or stranded in the US.
“That happens to a lot of people, and that’s exactly why we’re paying a lot of attention here about what can be done and how we can make sure the airlines deliver,” Buttigieg said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday.
The transportation secretary experienced the disruption on Friday when his flight from Washington to New York was canceled and he had to drive instead.
Pending the performance of airlines on July 4, the Department of Transportation could choose to take enforcement action if consumer protection standards are not met, Buttigieg told the AP. The point of sale reported that such action could include fines, but that these types of fines have been minor in the past, citing a $2 million fine imposed on Air Canada in 2021 for slow refunds.
Buttigieg’s comments came two days after he met airline CEOs to urge them on recent disruptions and urge them to find ways to stick to summer flight schedules, especially before July 4. The virtual meeting took place after more than 2,500 flights were canceled 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 trapped at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for more than 24 hours as more than 6,000 flights were delayed or canceled between Friday and Saturday.
A Delta spokesperson told Insider’s Bethany Biron on Saturday that their operations were impacted by factors such as “air traffic control challenges, weather and unplanned absences from some work groups.” Delta has been hit particularly hard by disruptions and canceled more flights during 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.