George Santos defends Buttigieg amid airline concerns: "Not to blame"

Embattled Representative George Santos, a New York Republican, on Monday crossed party lines to defend Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the wake of significant airline trouble over the Fourth of July weekend.

Thunderstorms on the East Coast and record-breaking numbers of people traveling over the weekend led to a wave of flight delays for thousands during one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. Among the airlines impacted by the chaos, United reportedly fared the worst, with 47 percent of its scheduled flights between June 24 and Sunday being delayed, and 15 percent being canceled, CNBC reported. The company has pledged to hand out 30,000 frequent flyer miles to customers whose plans were affected.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby pinned a considerable amount of the blame on the government, citing difficulties caused by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) decision to limit the number of flights out of Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the company’s biggest hubs, in response to severe weather.

“Airlines, including United, simply aren’t designed to have their largest hub have its capacity severely limited for four straight days and still operate successfully,” Kirby explained in a note to staff over the weekend, according to CNBC.

George Santos Defends
Representative George Santos, a New York Republican, is seen at the Capitol on June 22 in Washington, D.C. Santos on Monday crossed party lines to defend Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the wake of significant airline trouble over the Fourth of July weekend.
Drew Angerer/Getty

In a rare show of bipartisan support from the freshman House Republican, Santos, whose district encompasses part of Long Island, defended Buttigieg and his department from criticism and called for Kirby to “reevaluate his role” at United Airlines.

“It’s always incredible how United is always the airline with most issues and is the first to differ the blame to [Pete Buttigieg] & the DOT,” Santos wrote. The FAA & DOT are not to blame for their failure to service their customers. Scott Kirby needs to reevaluate his role as [United] CEO.”

As the federal agency tasked with overseeing all civilian air travel matters, the FAA operates within the Department of Transportation (DOT). Santos’ defense is especially rare, as Republicans have, in recent years, been quick to call Buttigieg to task for numerous travel-related incidents, including several notable train derailments.

“[Flight cancellations] really shot up at the beginning of the week, largely because of severe weathering hitting some of our key hubs,” Buttigieg said on Sunday during an appearance on CNN. “I think most passengers understand that no one can control the weather. But anything that’s under the control of the airlines—and anything that we can do on the FAA side—we need to continue pushing to make sure it’s the smoothest possible experience for airline passengers everywhere.”

Newsweek reached out to United Airlines via email for comment.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/642848932/N0XCij7dHdYERaRW?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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