Congress Wants Airlines to Show How Pandemic Relief Money Was Used
In recent months we have seen several airlines cancel thousands of flights and stranding passengers at multiple airports.
American Airlines, Spirit and Southwest have experienced staffing shortages as well as technology issues this year. Southwest, in fact, had two separate incidents of delays and canceled flights.
Now some lawmakers want to know why airlines have been unprepared for an uptick in travel demand after more than $50 billion in pandemic relief money over the last year and a half. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes is calling for hearings before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, of which she is a senior member.
“There should have been every reason, particularly given the bailout money for the airlines, to prepare for the surge we’re seeing now,” Holmes told Politico. “This money was for a very specific purpose.”
She speculated that it appears that “who really benefited are the shareholders of the airlines — that’s one of the reasons that I’m requesting a hearing.”
The Senate’s transportation panel already has plans to take testimony on this subject next month.
Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines pilot and a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, the union for pilots at American, said that crews aren’t always being managed well. Pilots and flight attendants are often waiting around after a canceled flight for airline planners to attempt to reschedule them as the clock ticks down on their shift.
Airlines for America, the trade group for major U.S. airlines, said that delays and cancellations are not related to the bailout loans and grants. It insists that federal support payments were “used exclusively” to keep workers on the job.