Airlines executives faced the Senate on Wednesday (Dec. 15) over issues regarding travel recovery and the effect of the aid, writes the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Lawmakers looked at the $ 54 billion that carriers received in federal grants, which prevented them from putting workers on leave.
That said, some carriers were still going through tough times after letting thousands of workers retire at the start of the pandemic with all the unknowns of that time.
The package was good, senators from both parties said – although Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, said some airlines had been “too ambitious,” resulting in delays and cancellations.
The hearing focused on other issues, including questions about airline fees and reimbursement policies, employee vaccination rules, inflation, sustainability and a growing pilot shortage that could affect service. air in parts of the country.
CEO of American Airlines Doug parker told the Senate committee that the aid had “saved” the industry.
Parker said in written remarks that American wanted to be aware of the issues and restore air service after receiving help.
But executives said they had faced difficulties in hiring and retaining employees. The labor market has become more competitive and carriers have experienced more absenteeism. It also worsened the disruption on planes and made it more difficult to deal with issues such as extreme weather conditions.
CEO of Southwest Airlines Gary Kelly said it was about “adapting to this pandemic reality that we are all facing”.
PYMNTS previously reported on the meeting before it took place, including that American plans to hire 18,000 workers in 2022, while Southwest plans to hire 8,000.
Read more: Senate committee hearing puts airline chiefs in the spotlight over cancellations and staff shortages
Airlines have seen improvements since October in terms of delays and cancellations. Part of that comes from higher pay and changed hours, according to the report. But as the new COVID-19 Omicron variant arrives, governments have started restricting travel from certain countries.