Buttigieg: 'There Are Going to be Challenges' with July 4 Travel, Airlines Pushed People into Early Retirement Even with COVID Relief
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Buttigieg: 'There Are Going to be Challenges' with July 4 Travel, Airlines Pushed People into Early Retirement Even with COVID Relief

Buttigieg: 'There Are Going to be Challenges' with July 4 Travel, Airlines Pushed People into Early Retirement Even with COVID Relief

During a portion of an interview aired on Tuesday’s “NBC Nightly News,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “There are going to be challenges” with air travel over the July 4 holiday, and that despite receiving $50 billion in coronavirus relief designed to save jobs, “a lot of people, including pilots, were nudged into early retirement by the airlines. That certainly is something that reduced the labor force that, right now, we’re really counting on.” Host Lester Holt asked, “Is the July 4 holiday a recipe for disaster given the issues with the system right now?” Buttigieg answered, “There are going to be challenges, but we’re watching it closely and we’re talking to the airlines every day about their responsibility to make sure that they can accommodate any issues that weather or other curveballs might throw at them. A lot of people, including me, are expecting to get to loved ones over this holiday weekend, and we need a system that is resilient enough to get them there, plus good customer service when an issue does come up.” Holt then said, “The airlines got a lot of money, over $50 billion. A lot of that, the idea was that you wouldn’t have to lay off people, that you could keep people employed.” Buttigieg responded, “So, the point of this taxpayer funding was to keep people in their jobs. And one of the best things about the Rescue Plan, for example, was the news that airline employees were told to tear up their furlough notices when it came through. But we also saw that a lot of people, including pilots, were nudged into early retirement by the airlines. That certainly is something that reduced the labor force that, right now, we’re really counting on. Often, we’re hearing the lack of a pilot ready to go cited as an issue or a problem that’s contributing to a delay or a cancellation.” Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett.

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