US lawmakers ‘concerned’ over airlines’ use of pandemic relief funds leading to pilot shortages – WFTV

WASHINGTON, DC — Lawmakers want to know how airlines spent billions of dollars in pandemic-related funds.

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Members of Congress recently sent a letter to the Treasury Department expressing concern that these funds have been used to encourage people to retire, leading to a shortage of pilots which has impacted flights Across the country.

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Just last week, another wave of canceled flights left travelers stranded.

Now members of Congress are raising serious questions about how government airline funding is being used.

It comes after an aviation audit found discrepancies.

“We are concerned that some airlines have used federal funds obtained during the pandemic to provide buyouts and early retirement packages to pilots, which could exacerbate a shortage of commercial pilots,” House Oversight Committee lawmakers wrote in the statement. letter.

The companies in question received $60 billion in pandemic relief funds.

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Lawmakers said after the funding arrived, three of America’s major airlines cut substantial swaths of their workforces and urged employees to take early retirements.

Airline executives have already tried to fend off criticism of how they spent the money.

“We are doing our part as an industry to support the economy,” said Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines.

Some members of Congress say they still won’t buy it and are now asking an inspector general to take a closer look.

Industry analysts estimate that around 42% of current airline pilots will retire by 2026, and some pilots say they are already being pushed to their limits.

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“We’re exhausted out there,” said driver Dennis Tajer. “The calendar is collapsing. They don’t have enough pilots hooked up to the planes.

Members of Congress say they expect answers within the next 10 days. It’s unclear how far the Inspector General might go next.

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