We've already heard the nonsense excuses that airlines offered up as to the flight disruptions that took place earlier this year. Now, House lawmakers want to hear more.
Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, and the committee’s top Republican, Sam Graves of Missouri wrote to the industry trade group "Airlines For America" last week asking whether or not airlines had enough staff to handle the holiday season, Bloomberg reported this week.
The Senate Commerce Committee has also asked executives of major airlines to come to a December 8 hearing and answer the same questions.
DeFazio and Graves' letter said: “As you know, travelers don’t care why their flight is delayed. They care just that it’s delayed.”
The trade group has yet to respond, but United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby publicly praised the government's PPP program and said it had been "helpful to employees".
Congress had included airlines in a $50 billion package to help cover payrolls and limit job losses early on in the pandemic. But despite the government help, airlines like American and Southwest have still suffered "mass cancellations" over the last few months.
The letter continued: “We suspect that the voluntary separations coupled with a faster than anticipated growth in travel volumes may have rendered airlines less resilient when recovering from cascading disruptions and delays due to weather and other variables, like those we saw earlier this fall."
Passenger traffic is still below 2019 levels, the report says. During the Thanksgiving holiday, only 87% of the traffic from a pre-pandemic 2019 traveled.