The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that a Federal Aviation Administration whistleblower has alleged the agency improperly fast-tracked approvals last year for Southwest Airlines, as the carrier hustled to finally launch service between California and Hawaii.
According to the Journal story, the whistleblower alleges the FAA gave Southwest preferential treatment and rushed its approvals process after the airline’s service to Hawaii was delayed several months by the December 2018 government shutdown.
Specifically, the whistleblower alleges that monitors who sat in the cockpit to observe Southwest’s required test flights between the mainland and Hawaii lacked the proper credentials — while local FAA employees familiar with Southwest’s operations were relegated to the cabin.
Notably, both Southwest and the Hawaii Department of Transportation used the airline’s first test flight to Hawaii in February as a media event to promote Southwest’s much-anticipated service to the islands.
Local press was given access near the airport tarmac to document what officials said was the first time a Southwest twin-engine 737 plane would land on Hawaiian soil. DOT officials also showcased the recent renovations at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport’s Terminal 2, where Southwest would operate.
The whistleblower alleges managers at the regulatory agency engaged in “gross mismanagement and abuse of authority” for “the financial benefit of the airline,” according to the Journal story.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Before you go . . .
During this unique election season, we appreciate that you and others like you have relied on Civil Beat for accurate, objective coverage of the candidates and their races.
Covering the pandemic has taken a lot of our collective energy. But through it all, our small team of reporters made sure you didn’t forget about electoral politics. Because we know that elections not only test society’s participation in our democracy, but journalism’s commitment to safeguarding it.
If you’ve relied on our election coverage this season, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to support our newsroom.