Once again, the country is experiencing a major transportation problem, but the person Joe Biden picked to lead the Department of Transportation is nowhere to be found.
Over the Christmas holidays, tens of thousands of travelers were stranded at airports — some were even threatened with arrest this week at the international airport in Nashville after their flight was canceled — because Southwest Airlines nearly collapsed completely, having to cancel thousands of flights for several days due to major shortages of crews and other issues.
It took days for Southwest’s CEO, Bob Jordan, and his company to issue a statement apologizing for stranding travelers and promising to make up for the shortfall at some point, per Breitbart News:
The airline is still operating at what has been described as a “reduced schedule,” leaving thousands of passengers stranded in various parts of the country.
On Wednesday, the airline canceled 2,510 flights, or 61 percent of total flights. There were 2,914 U.S.-related canceled flights in that same day. In other words, Southwest comprised 86 percent of those cancellations.
Other U.S. airlines did not experience those same issues. Just one percent of United Airlines fights — 30 — were canceled on Wednesday. Delta also saw only 16 canceled flights, as did Frontier, according to data from FlightAware.
The problems with the Dallas-based airline were so profound as to elicit bipartisan criticism from members of Congress.
“Southwest’s flight delays & cancellations are beyond unacceptable,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted Wednesday. “This is a company that got a $7 billion taxpayer bailout & will be handing out $428 million in dividends to their wealthy shareholders.”
The Department of Transportation “must hold Southwest’s CEO accountable for his greed and incompetence,” Sanders added, according to Fox News.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement that federal rules must be updated to prevent similar disasters in the future. “The Committee will be looking into the causes of these disruptions and its impact to consumers,” Cantwell said.
This comes after Buttigieg pledged in an appearance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” in September that airline travel “is going to get better by the holidays.”
Republicans, meanwhile, have complained about Buttigieg being absent for more than a year. Fox News noted that they “have complained Buttigieg does not take his job seriously amid a series of crises for Americans. Buttigieg was on vacation in Europe as railroad unions attempted to negotiate a deal in September to avoid a potentially disastrous strike. The secretary was on paternity leave with his husband and their two newborns for several months last year as the country faced supply chain shortages.”
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-N.C.), noted that because of the delays and cancellations, she almost did not make it home from Washington, D.C., in time to see her kids for the holidays. She has blasted the DoT for its slow response to the crisis.
“It took four days and thousands and thousands of cancelations for DOT to finally speak up; same thing, it took four days for the CEO of Southwest to finally speak up,” Mace said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.” “I hope at some point the government, when we are intervening and looking at some of these issues, that we are more efficient and more effective.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) noted that Buttigieg doesn’t have to concern himself with canceled flights because his never are: He takes private jets on the taxpayer’s dime and has done so several times since he took office.
“If @USDOT is serious about addressing Southwest’s recent implosion, it should prohibit its leader @SecretaryPete from flying private,” Biggs tweeted Wednesday. “Why wasn’t he aware of these challenges beforehand? Late to the game and out of touch.”
Maybe Biden should be appointing people to his administration based on their competence, not on being able to check off left-wing ideological boxes.