Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary, responded faster to rumors of a possible Senate run after Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow’s retirement announcement that than to the holiday airline crisis.
Sen. Stabenow declared Thursday morning at 9:15 am that she will not run for re-election. Rumours circulated that Buttigieg would run for Stabenow’s office after she recently moved to Michigan.
Buttigieg addressed the rumors with a statement that was sent to reporters just before 11:00 AM.
Buttigieg stated that he is fully focused on his role as Secretary for Transportation and does not seek other jobs.
Buttigieg was criticized for his inaction regarding mass airline cancellations and delays that left thousands of holiday travelers stranded. According to FlightAware, 63% of all canceled flights were attributable to Southwest Airlines. The airline claimed that the disruptions were caused by “extreme weather”, but others blamed an “unorganized” operational system that made staff difficult to access new assignments.
Southwest cancelled 2,909 flights on Dec. 26, accounting for 71%, but Buttigieg issued a statement just after midnight on Dec. 27,
Responding to a U.S. Department of Transportation post that said they were “concerned” about the cancellations, Buttigieg tweeted: “I’m monitoring closely & will have additional to say about it tomorrow.”
In a statement to ABC News Dec. 28, Buttigieg stated that Southwest customers should be compensated for the “system failure.”
Buttigieg was warned by the state attorneys general in August about an impending airline crisis. They urged him to take “meaningful action.”
Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, wrote an August letter to Buttigieg warning about a “deeply troubling” pattern of flight cancellations and delays during high travel times.
The Department of Transportation warned Southwest CEO Bob Jordan to reimburse for cancelled flights, hotel meals, lost baggage and other expenses. It also threatened to use its enforcement and investigative powers to hold Southwest responsible.
Daily Caller did not receive a response from the Department of Transportation to its request for comment at the time of publication.