The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dylan Gyauch-Lewis,

Sec. Buttigieg Could Have Prevented The Southwest Debacle


During the height of holiday travel, Southwest Airlines suffered a complete collapse in their operations, driven by outmoded IT systems and understaffing. While most of the other major airlines had single-digit cancellation rates while facing the same weather, Southwest’s cancellation rates peaked at more than 60 percent. In response, Secretary Buttigieg announced that the Department of Transportation would be investigating the incident.

The Revolving Door Project’s Executive Director, Jeff Hauser, issued the following statement about the investigation:

“While it is absolutely necessary that such a colossal failure to serve consumers be investigated, this probe will never atone for the fact that, after the air travel meltdown this summer, Buttigieg waived his responsibility to enforce the law and hold corporations to account.”

“Pete Buttigieg chose to let nearly every domestic airline off scott free after they were caught completely flat-footed earlier this year. Despite rampant cancellations and widespread violation of federal law by giving travel vouchers instead of cash refunds, the only domestic airline to face any regulatory scrutiny was the small, politically weak Frontier. That is despite the fact that Frontier was responsible for far less of the industry-wide meltdown than major players like United or Southwest. Every other US-based airline got off with a warning and promised to do better in the future. When you don’t actually enforce the law, you lose credibility as a regulator. Our position is simple: when corporations violate federal law, they should be investigated and held accountable.”

“The Southwest debacle is what happens when corporations feel like they won’t face any serious regulatory oversight. Southwest’s behavior indicates that powerful corporations do not respect Buttigieg as a regulator. Secretary Buttigieg could have potentially prevented thousands of people from being stranded on a holiday weekend in airports by doing his job sooner and enforcing the law against a rapacious corporation like Southwest that is indifferent to their consumers’ wellbeing.”

The Revolving Door Project (RDP) scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.