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Press Release Published: Jun 30, 2022

Comer & Oversight Republicans Probe Department of Transportation’s Failure to Remedy Increasing Rate of Flight Cancellations

Call out Secretary Buttigieg for unserious and out-of-touch solutions to complex problems

WASHINGTON — Ahead of the July Fourth holiday weekend, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Oversight Committee Republican lawmakers blasted U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg regarding the Department’s failure to remedy the increasing rate of flight cancellations. The Republican lawmakers request a briefing with Department of Transportation officials to explain what plans the Biden Administration has to ensure the airline industry is able to operate at peak efficiency without stranding millions of families across the country. 

“We are conducting oversight of the increasing rate of flight cancellations around the country and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s failure to remedy this problem. The Department’s inaction is compounding these cancellations as 48 million Americans are expected to travel over the upcoming Independence Day weekend. The Department may not directly control decisions to cancel flights, yet it continues to push unserious and out-of-touch solutions to complex problems, such as simply demanding that airlines hire more staff.  Rather than offer solutions, the Biden Administration is relying on excuses to respond to the foreseeable economic consequences of its war on domestic energy production and big-government COVID-19 response. The American people deserve a Department that works to ensure a robust domestic airline industry.  We therefore write to request information about the Department’s strategy to reduce flight cancellations,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.

The airline industry has been harmed by COVID-19 lockdowns and inflation, leading to a mass departure or furloughing of pilots and surging fuel prices. With the Independence Day weekend approaching, airlines are set to experience an uptick in passengers. However, the past week demonstrated a severe lack of preparedness for the holiday, with over 1,500 domestic flights cancelled last Saturday and Sunday, and another 770 flights canceled on Monday. During a recent meeting with airline executives, Secretary Buttigieg urged airlines to hire more staff ahead of the looming July Fourth holiday weekend, which did not amount to a significant change in the airlines’ strategy.  

“Committee Republicans are concerned the Department does not have a serious plan to address deteriorating flight schedules, which will be made even more painfully clear to Americans across the country as their flights continue to be delayed or cancelled. We therefore request that you provide Committee Republican staff a briefing to explain your plans to use the tools at the Department’s disposal to ensure the airline industry is able to operate at peak efficiency without stranding millions of families across the country,” continued the lawmakers. 

Read the letter here.