US Senate urged to hold hearings on airlines’ use of COVID bailout funds

  • FlyersRights calls for oversight hearings with airline CEOs, labor and passenger representatives.
  • Airlines were given massive federal subsidies since 2020.
  • There are questions whether taxpayers money has been misused by airlines.

FlyersRights President Paul Hudson called for US Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearings with airline CEOs plus labor and passenger representatives. 

FlyersRights President Paul Hudson

Paul Hudson explained, “Airlines were given massive federal subsidies since 2020 to keep public air service strong and reduce COVID infections. But recent record-high cancellations, flight delays, plus airline opposition to some CDC guidelines call into question whether taxpayer money has been misused by airline management.”

US airlines received over $79 billion in bailout money across three COVID-related bills in 2020-2021 to help them, their employees, and the air travel industry survive the worst of the COVID pandemic. Congress intended this money to go to pilots, flight attendants, and other airline and airport employees to ensure they were paid during the severely depressed demand period and to ensure that the airlines would have the capacity to meet the increased travel demand as soon as the COVID-19 situation improved. 

The airlines, particularly American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, completely failed the American people. Throughout the summer, airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights per day because they did not have enough employees ready to go. On its worst day, Spirit Airlines cancelled over half of its scheduled flights.

This is unacceptable, and Senator Maria Cantwell, the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter on this subject to the airlines in July. met with her staff to discuss the issue and to propose the solution to the latest of airline abuses. proposed committee oversight hearings to force Doug Parker, Gary Kelly, Ted Christie and other airline CEOs to explain what they did with the COVID relief money and why their airlines have failed to deliver what the law intended.

Oversight hearings should also include passenger representatives and labor representatives. proposed a stimulus and social distancing plan that would have kept the airlines profitable, running at a higher capacity during the pandemic, and would have ensured air travel was safer, all at a lower cost than the bailout packages. 

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