Washington (March 9, 2023) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Comptroller General to investigate airlines on their capacity to prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters. The Airline Operational Resiliency Act would further ensure the federal government can better understand airlines’ operational investments, staffing levels and safety policies, mitigation strategies, and other resiliency planning.
“Millions of passengers were left stranded at the gate last year as Winter Storm Elliott blew into the busy holiday season,” said Senator Markey. “These mass cancellations and ruined holiday memories could have been avoided if airlines had taken seriously the threat of extreme weather events, which are only becoming more frequent and intensifying due to climate change. I am proud to introduce the Airline Operational Resiliency Act so that Congress will know whether or not these airlines are prepared to respond to these crises and have made the investments needed to protect their crews and passengers. I thank Senators Capito, Welch, and Fischer for their partnership on this legislation.”
“After a major winter storm caused thousands of flight cancellations over the holidays, it’s important that we have the necessary information on how air carriers prepare for extreme weather and how the FAA works with them through these storms. The Airline Operational Resiliency Act will help accomplish this goal, and contribute to a more efficient aviation sector,” said Senator Capito.
“Americans deserve consistent and reliable air travel, but far too many airlines are unprepared for extreme weather events, as Winter Storm Elliott demonstrated. The Airline Operational Resiliency Act will help bring transparency to air travel and give Congress the information necessary to make it safer for passengers to fly and make our airlines more resilient to extreme weather events,” said Senator Welch.
A copy of the Airline Operational Resiliency Act can be found HERE.
In the wake of Winter Storm Elliott in January, Senator Markey led his colleagues in a letter to Southwest Airlines demanding that the company answer for its mass flight cancellations. The senators asked Southwest CEO Robert E. Jordan to explain the causes of this holiday debacle, including Southwest’s outdated scheduling software, personnel decisions, ticket refund policies, passenger baggage decisions, and shareholder compensation. In February, Senator Markey questioned Southwest COO Andrew Waterson as he testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on the need for airlines to be held accountable for leaving passengers stranded during the storm.