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Democrats want to probe airline Covid bailouts for employee buybacks


Airline pilots walk through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on December 27, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.

Anna Moneymaker | beautiful pictures

Two House Democrats have asked a Treasury watchdog to investigate whether airlines are using part of the federal coronavirus relief package to pay employees. repurchase during the pandemic.

Airlines are barred from laying off employees on condition of accepting $54 billion in taxpayer aid to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel demand collapsed in the early days of the crisis. However, service providers were able to urge workers to join early retirement or extended leave packages. Thousands of people have accepted them on offer, including hundreds of pilots.

Representatives Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and James Clyburn, DS.C., chair of the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, on Thursday requested the request. The Treasury Department’s watchdog looks at how airlines have used Covid-19 aid and whether it was used to buy back or cut staff, according to a letter reviewed by CNBC.

As travel demand surges this year, airlines find themselves understaffed, including in the cockpit. As a result, some airlines, including American and United, flight cut or land dozens of planes, especially to small cities. Shorter routes are often flown by regional airlines, and airlines have hired hundreds of new pilots from those smaller carriers to fill their own ranks.

This year’s labor shortage has made it difficult for airlines to recover from routine problems like bad weather.

The lawmakers wrote in a letter to Treasury Deputy Inspector General Richard Delmar: “As a result of pilot shortages, thousands of flights have been delayed or canceled, affecting our travel plans. millions of American taxpayers.

The Treasury Department, the Office of the Inspector General, the major US carriers and their industry group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Maloney and Clyburn have asked the watchdog for preliminary results by September 22.

U.S. carriers began operations in 2020 with 456,398 full-time employees, down to 363,354 in November of that year, according to the Department of Transportation. Airlines have been on recruit for over a year, and by June had 455,642 equivalent full-time employees.



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