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Massive flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines during the Christmas holiday week are prompting the federal government to look into why thousands of travelers were left stranded across the country, along with huge piles of luggage in airports served by the beleaguered airline.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his agency would examine what caused Southwest’s widespread cancellations, which began as a massive polar storm gripped much of the country a few days before Christmas. The airline was able to resume normal operations on Friday as another holiday weekend approached. The airline canceled more than 15,700 flights since Dec. 22, according to The Dallas Morning News. Cancellations by other airlines were a fraction of that amount, according to published reports.
“Because what we’re seeing right now, from the system and the flights themselves to the inability to reach anybody on a customer service phone line, it is just completely unacceptable,” Buttigieg told CBS early Wednesday. The Senate Commerce Committee also plans to investigate.
Southwest does not use the hub-and-spoke system relied upon by other major carriers, instead relying on a point-to-point system. That means even where planes were available, often crews and pilots were stranded in other cities.
Abbott pushes back on migrant bus criticism
Abbott has drawn criticism after a bus from Texas dropped off more than 100 migrants in freezing weather near Vice President Kamala Harris’ official residence in Washington, D.C. An Austin American-Statesman report noted the state has bused nearly 16,000 migrants to so-called sanctuary cities. Abbott tweeted a breakdown of how many migrants have been bused to cities outside of Texas.
Thus far, 8,900 have been sent to Washington; 4,900 to New York City; more than 1,500 to Chicago; and more than 630 to Philadelphia. The governor has maintained in the past that the migrants have given permission to be bused North. The White House has called the move “a cruel, dangerous, and shameful stunt.”
“We’re providing relief to local communities overwhelmed by President Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott said.
The U.S. Supreme Court has so far stopped the Biden administration from eliminating Title 42, a federal rule enacted during the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow the U.S. to return asylum-seeking migrants to Mexico or their country of origin.
$54 million in career, technical education grants
The Texas Workforce Commission has announced 152 grants totaling more than $54 million to various public community, state and technical colleges, as well as school district and charter schools across the state. The grants will be used to buy equipment to establish or expand programs that offer Texas students the opportunity to earn licenses, certificates, or post-secondary degrees in fields such as nursing, welding, automotive repair and dentistry.