This week, the top four airlines in the US, according to Airfarewatchdog.com, are American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta and Southwest. The reason that these four airlines have a monopoly on most inter-city flights is because they are the only airlines that can afford to pay their employees enough to afford to buy airline tickets.
The past several years have been anything but kind to the major airlines. While the industry has struggled in general, it’s been especially tough for United, American, Delta and Southwest, who have seen their stock prices dive along with the recovery from the Great Recession. Now, they’re getting hit with a wave of new lawsuits.
The good news: Major US airlines are spending $1.65 billion more than last year to provide you with a safe, secure and comfortable travel experience. The bad news: None of it is actually getting where it’s going.. Read more about airline bailout 2024 and let us know what you think.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) wrote to the CEOs of six U.S. airlines on Friday, asking them to explain the $54 billion Congress granted them last year, citing labor shortages and delayed – or canceled – flights when travel resumed.
Cantwell is also the head of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has a lot of influence.
‘What was the money for if there are labor shortages, and how do you account for it since it was understood that the receipt of such money was dependent on no layoffs?’ she wrote to the CEOs of American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Republic, and Allegiant airlines.
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Cantwell will undoubtedly get a response, but she wasn’t waiting for it and instead offered her own perspective.
Senator Feinstein stated that she is “concerned that, at best, the airlines have badly managed their marketing of flights and workforce as more people fly, and, at worst, they have failed to fulfill the purpose of public financing and prepare for the increase in travel that we are currently seeing.”
By the end of the month, the senator also wants a staff briefing from each of the airlines.
Congress established the Payroll Maintain Program at the request of the airline industry to give loans to airlines to support worker salaries and benefits. Employee layoffs, forced furloughs, and pay cutbacks were prohibited under the three rounds of billions in government payroll assistance for the airline sector.
Airlines, on the other hand, discovered a way around this. During gaps in government assistance, a number of carriers furloughed workers. To save even more money, airlines offered voluntary buyout and early retirement packages, as well as asking employees to take unpaid or low-paid leave.
Now that the majority of Americans have been vaccinated and the nation has reopened, leisure flights and reservations are returning to pre-pandemic levels, and airlines have started bringing back employees who had taken voluntary leave during the outbreak.
“This alleged labor shortfall goes contrary to the (Payroll Support Program’s) purpose and spirit, which was to allow airlines to weather the pandemic while keeping workers on the payroll so that the sector could capitalize on a recovery in demand,” Cantwell wrote.
The airlines were contacted by CNN for comment on the letters. Southwest was the only airline to respond, saying it is “staffed for what we’re flying and flying for what we’re staffed…. We’re fortunate to have been the only major airline to maintain service at every U.S. airport we served prior to the pandemic, and to have used Congressional Payroll Support to maintain staffing (continuing a 50-year history of no layoffs, no furloughs) to support both that conti
United Airlines has been fined $8,000 by the FAA for failing to report serious incidents, like the loss of a giant passenger jet engine, during a pilot training session. Canada’s WestJet has also been fined $8,000 for failing to report an incident in a similar training session. The two incidents, occurring in separate incidents in October of last year, show that American Airlines is also not reporting incidents during its training flights. It is now requiring its employees to report any potential incidents during training or while operating a commercial flight.. Read more about airline bailout 2001 and let us know what you think.
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