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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for action from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, telling his supporters to urge the Biden administration to “take action to reduce flight cancellations and delays” in America.
In an email sent from Sanders to supporters on Friday, the senator targeted Buttigieg over the crisis Americans are facing amid Independence Day as it relates to flight delays and cancellations, as well as the high prices associated with tickets, checked bags, and fees.
As rumors circulate around a potential presidential run from Sanders in 2024, his remarks regarding action that he believes should be taken from Buttigieg, who is also rumored to be a Democratic presidential hopeful, were accompanied by a petition urging swift action on the issue from the administration.
This is not the first time Sanders has spoken out about the problems or offered criticism of Buttigieg. Earlier this week, Sanders sent a letter to Buttigieg urging “immediate action to substantially reduce” the problems Americans are being forced to undergo with air travel.
“All over this country, airline passengers are growing increasingly frustrated by the massive increase in flight delays, cancellations, and outrageously high prices they are forced to pay for tickets, checked bags and other fees,” Sanders wrote. “Thousands of flight disruptions have left passengers and crew members stranded at crowded airports from one end of the country to the other forcing them to miss weddings, funerals, and business meetings and ruining family vacations that have been planned for months in advance.”
Sanders said the flight issues occurring across America are “simply unacceptable” and insisted the administration must work to ensure that passengers are “treated with respect, not contempt.”
“During the pandemic, when air travel came to a near halt, U.S. taxpayers came to the rescue and gave $54 billion to the airline industry,” Sanders added in the letter. “The top eight airlines alone received nearly $50 billion in taxpayer assistance from the federal government. Given all of the generous taxpayer support that has been provided to the airline industry, all of us have a responsibility to make sure that passengers and crew members are treated with respect, not contempt.”
In his letter, Sanders urged Buttigieg to require airlines to refund passengers for flights delayed more than an hour, impose fines on airlines for flights delayed for more than two hours, and impose fines on airlines that cannot “properly staff” scheduled flights.
Both Sanders and Buttigieg competed for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, and questions have begun swirling whether the pair may face off against one another again in 2024.
Asked whether President Biden had spoken with Buttigieg about the flight delays and cancellations that have swept across the country, Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to Biden, said Friday during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “The Story” with Martha MacCallum that the administration has “enormous confidence” in the “star” transportation secretary.
“I’m not going to front-run Secretary Buttigieg,” Sperling added. “He’s going to be speaking about the issues.”
Domestic airfare rose 47% since January 2022, according to Adobe Analytics.
Some travelers told Fox News the impact of high inflation delayed their travel plans.