This week Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pledged to take enforcement actions to protect airline consumers amid a continued surge in flight delays and cancellations – problems that are largely of the airline industry’s own making. A recent analysis from corporate watchdog Accountable.US outlined the history of worker mistreatment of the top five U.S. airline companies’ (even as they’ve received nearly $54 billion in federal bailouts) that is now contributing to a labor shortage and subsequent consumer headaches.
Decisions made by the major airlines to subject their workforce to low pay, long hours, and weak benefits bear much of the blame for the capacity issues they now struggle with, while some have even bragged about their profits as they have stretched their employees to the breaking point.
Highly compensated airline executives – including from companies that have taken billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts and bragged of recent profits – are desperate to blame anyone but themselves for a surge of delays and cancellations that follow years of treating their workers like dispensable cogs. Unfortunately, it’s the consumers who are now paying the price of the airline industry’s self-inflicted labor crisis – one that is a predictable result of companies prioritizing a small group of wealthy investors above all.”