Pete Buttigeig on Southwest: 'Past the point where they could say this is a weather-driven issue'

"We will be here to hold them accountable," Buttigieg said.

Updated: December 28, 2022 - 12:54pm

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday said Southwest is "past the point" where the weather could be blamed for the airline's meltdown, but it is a "system failure."

After his agency pledged Monday to investigate Southwest, Buttigieg told "Good Morning America" that "meltdown" best describes the situation at the airline.

"We are past the point where they could say this is a weather-driven issue," he said.

Brutal winter weather initially worsened travel conditions, but Southwest's dated technology has been unable to catch up, causing the airline to cancel more than 10,000 flights so far this week.

"As of today, the rest of the aviation system is down to a rate of about 4% of flights being canceled," the transportation secretary said. Southwest, by comparison, has canceled more than 60% of its flights since Monday. Buttigieg said this indicates a "system failure."

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan spoke with Buttigieg this week amid the crisis. 

"We will be here to hold them accountable for things like taking care of the expenses of those passengers. He pledged to me that he was going to do that," Buttigieg said. "We will be watching closely to make sure that actually happens."

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