WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - The leaders of the U.S. House
Transportation Committee have asked a major airline industry
trade group to answer questions about $54 billion in government
payroll aid carriers got.
Committee chair Peter DeFazio, a Democrat, and the panel's
top Republican Sam Graves, asked Airlines for America (A4A) to
answer questions about staffing reductions despite the taxpayer
The lawmakers in a letter late Thursday noted questions have
been raised about disruptions at two major U.S. carriers in
recent months. They asked in the letter if that is the result of
"a shortage of workers in key operational areas, despite the
approximately $50 billion in aid" from Congress.
"We expect airlines to take whatever measures are available
to ameliorate any short-staffing issues and begin to address
longer-term workforce shortages."
The letter comes as the Senate Commerce Committee has
invited the chief executives of seven major U.S. airlines to
testify at an oversight hearing now expected to take place Dec.
Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat who chairs the panel, is
inviting the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines
, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines,
JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and Spirit
Airlines to testify, Reuters reported earlier this
Many of those CEOs are expected to be in Washington on Dec.
15 to take part in an A4A meeting, officials said.
Cantwell said the CEOs should testify.
"I would encourage them to show up," Cantwell told Reuters
on Wednesday. "I think it is bad faith not to show up ... The
public deserves to know some answers."
She added "we're going to do our oversight role because this
was a lot of money."
The airlines declined comment or did not immediately
Starting in March 2020, Congress approved three separate
rounds of taxpayer bailouts totaling $54 billion to cover much
of U.S. airlines' payroll costs through Sept. 30 as a result of
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airlines that received government assistance were not
allowed to issue involuntary layoffs or cut worker pay. They
also had to limit executive compensation and halt share buybacks
and dividend payments.
(Reporting by David Shepardson
Editing by Marguerita Choy)