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Tipsheet

Oh Look, Another Transportation Crisis Courtesy of Biden and Buttigieg

BEBETO MATTHEWS

It's been less than three months since the Federal Aviation Administration was forced to ground all flights within the United States due to a failure of its NOTAM — previously "Notice to Airmen," changed by woke gender equity warrior Pete Buttigieg to "Notice to Air Missions" — system, but another FAA failure that the Department of Transportation hasn't managed to address is already causing flights scheduled for the busy spring and summer travel season to be canceled. 

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This latest brewing crisis came into focus after JetBlue announced this week that it would be canceling "scores" of its regularly scheduled flights to and from airports in the New York City area and Washington, D.C. this spring and summer in response to the FAA's air traffic controller staffing shortfall-triggered plan that includes "reducing flight requirements by up to 10% for airlines’ takeoff and landing rights to avoid congestion" from May 15 through September 15 of this year.

Naturally, the cuts to flight schedules will hit airlines' bottom lines. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes explained to CNBC that "We’re staffed, we’ve already trained pilots, we’re paying for pilots, we’ve bought airplanes, we’re paying for gates and slots — this is going to have a very significant financial impact on JetBlue and our customers.” More than other airlines, JetBlue will be hit especially hard due to its heavy use of New York City airports for its operations.

In addition to JetBlue, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines have also said they'll reduce the number of flights they operate during the busy summer travel season by obtaining slot waivers from the FAA. The reduction in flights means fewer options for travelers, higher demand for available seats, and likely higher prices for Americans who've already seen fares increase 26.5 percent over the last 12 months. 

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JetBlue's CEO explained that he doesn't "want to pull down flights" and emphasized that "no airline wants to pull down flights," but said if such cuts aren't made, "the system is not going to be workable this summer."

Whose system is that? The FAA's, an agency that is still without a Senate-confirmed administrator after Biden's nominee Phil Washington was forced with withdraw from consideration after botching his congressional testimony and embarrassingly failing to answer basic questions about aviation and FAA regulations. The FAA falls under the Department of Transportation, where Pete Buttigieg is the secretary — when he's not AWOL, that is — and Buttigieg answers to President Biden. 

Here's the thing: air travel demand always spikes in the summer. The number of Americans traveling by plane has steadily increased as COVID-19 and its accompanying mandates and restrictions were rolled back. And last summer saw delays and disruptions as a result of already-existing ATC staffing issues.

There's no reason why the FAA, Buttigieg, or Biden wouldn't have known there'd be issues in the upcoming summer travel season unless staffing shortfalls were addressed. Yet, they apparently did not do anything to avert the problem, at least nothing that made a difference, and now flight schedules in America's largest city and the nation's capital are being slashed. 

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Will there be any accountability for Biden administration officials in charge of America's air transportation system? You'll likely wait longer for that than you will for a departure from LaGuardia this summer. 

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