Exclusive: US Senate committee invites airline CEOs to testify at December 8 hearing

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Airbus A321 takes off from Los Angeles International Airport
FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines Airbus A321-200 takes off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 28, 2018. REUTERS / Mike Blake / File Photo

November 30, 2021

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the US Senate Commerce Committee, concerned about worker shortages at airlines that receive billions of dollars in government support, has invited the CEOs of seven major airlines of the United States to testify at a hearing on December 8, airlines and a committee. official told Reuters.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat who chairs the panel, is inviting executives from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines to testify, the official said. said more.

The airlines declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters first reported plans for the November 3 hearing but it was not clear at the time whether Cantwell would ask the CEOs to appear.

Beginning March 2020, Congress passed three separate rounds of taxpayer relief totaling $54 billion to cover most of the payroll costs of U.S. airlines through March 30. September due to COVID-19.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents workers at 17 airlines, said on Tuesday that it would be impossible to have a week of heavy government thanksgiving and incentives. negotiated by the union.

“We made sure that airline staff were on hand to accommodate air travel demand after vaccination,” added Nelson.

Last month, Nelson noted that the airline industry “has created a COVID-19 relief plan that no other industry has.”

Airlines that receive government support are not allowed to lay off workers involuntarily or cut wages. They must also limit executive bonuses and suspend share buybacks and dividend payments.

Staff shortages in recent months have prompted some airlines to cancel hundreds of flights even as they ramp up staffing efforts.

In July, Cantwell asked a number of airlines detailed questions about “staff shortages, cancellations and delays, creating havoc and disappointing consumers as more and more passengers America continues to travel.”

That letter said each airline “mismanaged the marketing of flights and its workforce as more and more people traveled, and at worst failed to meet the applicant’s sponsorship intent.” taxes and prepare for an increase in tourism.”

This month, Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson said the difficulties for some airline operations were “due to more changes in consumer behavior,” such as a spike in travel. entertain.

“They may not have as much buffer in their schedule as they used to,” he added.

A group of US senators this month led by Democrat Richard Blumenthal re-enacted legislation to expand protections for airline passengers to ensure “airlines provide provide passengers with reasonable compensation, refunds and recourse in the event of flight delays and cancellations caused by the airline.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski and David Gregorio)

Source link Exclusive: US Senate committee invites airline CEOs to testify at December 8 hearing

Bobby Allyn

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