John Fetterman, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and current candidate for U.S. Senate, called on President Joe Biden’s administration to fine airlines “up to $27,500 per passenger” for canceled flights.
Fetterman’s calls for airline fines come as American travelers have run into thousands of canceled flights going into Independence Day weekend.
Fetterman urged Biden to implement a fine similar to one that former President Barack Obama imposed on airlines with lengthy delays.
Fetterman said in a statement on Wednesday:
The Department of Transportation needs to take action. They should start fining airlines up to $27,500 per passenger for every flight they cancel that they knew they didn’t have the staff to fly — just as the Obama administration did in 2009 whenever airlines left a plane on the tarmac for over 3 hours.
The Democrat Senate hopeful highlighted the billions of taxpayer dollars airlines received and said now is the time for airlines “to hold up their end of the deal.”:
DOT must also look into ways to ensure that airlines are compensating consumers for sunk costs. It’s the very least they can do for violating the trust of their customers. Government has a responsibility to hold these airlines accountable. Tax payers saved them, and now it’s their turn to hold up their end of the deal.
The thousands of cancellations are reportedly due to airlines being short on pilots and other staff members after laying off or buying out many of their staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Independence Day weekend is not the first time airlines have canceled flights en masse. Thousands of flights have been delayed going back as far as last October.
“But despite requirements to retain their workforce under the terms of the bailout, the airlines found loopholes to push thousands of pilots and crew out of their jobs,” Fetterman said.
“So now as airlines are getting busier, they are overpromising, underdelivering, and leaving consumers in the dust. According to some airline workers, airlines are even booking passengers on flights that they know they will not have the staff to operate,” Fetterman concluded.
Airlines canceled 634 flights within, into, or out of the United States on Wednesday and delayed another 5,070, according to flight tracker Flight Aware.
Fetterman leads Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz by four points, according to a recent survey.