American Airlines will participate in Senate oversight hearing Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: An American Airlines plane taxis on the tarmac. On November 8, 2021, the New York City skyline can be seen in the background of the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, USA. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters)-An aviation trade organization said on Friday that American Airlines will participate in the Senate’s oversight hearing on the industry this month. Legislators are expected to discuss how airlines use federal aid and staffing related to the pandemic. Questions and other questions to ask executives.

The Senate Commerce Committee has invited the chief executives of seven major US airlines to testify at a hearing scheduled for December 15.

Industry trade organization American Airlines (A4A) said in a statement that “American Airlines looks forward to participating,” but did not specify whether the CEO will testify at the request of Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, chairman of the committee.

Cantwell has invited American Airlines (NASDAQ:), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:), Southwest Airlines (NYSE:), United Airlines, JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:), Alaska Airlines and Spirit Aviation (New York Stock Exchange:) Appeared, Reuters reported this week.

A4A stated that the airline looks forward to continuing to work with Cantwell and the highest Republican Senator Roger Wicker on the committee “on the issues facing the U.S. aviation industry.”

“I will encourage them to show up,” Cantwell told Reuters on Wednesday when speaking of the CEO. “I think it is malicious not to show up…. The public should know some answers.”

Cantwell added: “We will perform our oversight duties because this is a lot of money.” Officials said that many of the CEOs are expected to attend the A4A meeting in Washington on the day of the hearing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, American Airlines and airlines around the world have been hit hard by the reduction in business and tourist travel. Beginning in March 2020, Congress approved three rounds of taxpayer assistance programs totaling $54 billion to cover most of the U.S. airline wage costs as of September 30 this year, which was caused by the pandemic.

Legislators want to know whether the voluntary employee buyout provided by airlines, despite the salary assistance, will cause some airlines’ operational problems, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights in recent months.

The leaders of the Transportation Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives separately asked A4A to answer questions about government wage assistance received by carriers.

Democrat Rep. Peter de Fazio, chairman of the committee, and Rep. Sam Graves, the top Republican of the group, asked A4A to answer questions about layoffs despite taxpayer assistance.

In a letter published late on Thursday, DeFazio and Graves pointed out that the business interruption of two major US airlines in recent months has raised doubts and asked whether this is the result of a “worker shortage in key operational areas”. , Despite the assistance of Congress.

The two congressmen wrote: “We hope that airlines will take all measures to improve any manpower shortage and begin to solve the long-term labor shortage.”

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have experienced high-profile problems in recent months that have caused hundreds of flight cancellations.

A4A stated that in the early stages of last year’s pandemic, COVID-19 reduced air travel demand by as much as 96%.

The organization stated: “The industry is in survival mode and (the assistance program) is essential to ensure that American Airlines employees continue to work, are prepared, and can continue to provide basic services.”

It added that “the operational disruptions experienced by some airlines have nothing to do with the support of the federal government.”

Airlines receiving government assistance must not make involuntary layoffs or cut workers’ wages. They must also limit executive compensation and stop stock buybacks and dividend payments.

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