Lawmakers seek US probe on airline handling of COVID funds

(Reuters) — The leaders of two congressional committees want a federal probe into irrespective of whether airlines applied govt pandemic dollars to fund pilot buyouts and early retirements that could have fueled present-day pilot shortages, in accordance to a letter launched on Friday.

Congress accepted $54 billion in a few rounds masking much of U.S. airline payroll charges for 18 months that finished in September 2021. Airways accepting governing administration aid that funded payroll charges have been prohibited from furloughs or firing workers and confronted boundaries on executive payment and bans on stock buybacks and dividends.

Important airlines, right after getting rid of thousands of staff members in the course of the pandemic, now have more pilots than prior to COVID-19 and are flying much less flights but deal with larger absentee charges driven by COVID scenarios. Regional airlines are continue to having difficulties to use sufficient pilots, while airways minimize back again on flights this summer season to increase effectiveness.

“As a final result of pilot shortages, countless numbers of flights have been delayed or canceled, wreaking havoc on travel designs for hundreds of thousands of American taxpayers,” House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Coronavirus Disaster Committee Chairman James Clyburn wrote in a Sept. 8 letter to the Treasury Department’s inspector basic.

The committee wishes the inspector standard to “complete a comprehensive overview of the federal funding Treasury has disbursed to airways to sustain their functions all through the coronavirus pandemic, together with an accounting for how the money had been disbursed and employed by every airline recipient.”

A team symbolizing key airways did not right away comment.

Out of $54 billion, airlines have to repay $14 billion, or 26.2%. American Airlines been given $12.6 billion, Delta Air Strains $11.9 billion, United Airlines $10.9 billion and Southwest Airways $7.2 billion, according to a U.S. Senate panel.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg faces force from Congress to do far more to hold airways accountable for tens of countless numbers of flight cancellations and delays this summer months.

A team of 36 point out lawyers normal on Aug. 31 called on Congress to give them new authority to look into passenger issues. Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Alex Padilla have urged the Office of Transportation to fine airways that hold off or cancel flights for the reason that of staffing or operational challenges.

 

 

 

Christopher Lewis

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