The United States congress made a request to the White House for accounting of taxpayer money that went into relief aid after Hurricane Maria. The U.S government is looking at more than $30 million in funds that were given by American Airlines to help Puerto Rico, but only some have been accounted for since no specific account exists.
The “cares act airlines stipulations” is a new law that was passed by Congress. The law requires the government to provide accounting of money that has been given out to airlines for pandemic relief.
Following repeated cases of large airline delays and cancellations this year, many Congressional legislators are seeking an accounting of where the government’s $50 billion in pandemic relief funds for the aviation sector went.
The bailout subsidies and loans given last year were ostensibly intended to assist airlines keep their payrolls rolling, with the caveat that no firings or layoffs would occur.
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Airlines were able to get around this by introducing buyouts and early retirements among its staff, allowing them to bankroll more money.
However, when the pent-up demand for travel shocked them and the number of travelers exploded, several airlines found themselves short-staffed and unprepared this year.
Legislators now want to know where all that money went, according to a terrific piece in Politico. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes (D-DC) has requested hearings before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where she is a senior member.
“There should have been every reason to prepare for the spike we’re witnessing now, especially given the bailout money for the airlines,” Holmes told Politico. “This money was intended for a particular use.”
The Senate’s transportation committee has already scheduled hearings on the matter for next month.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a well-known aviation watchdog, said, “The airlines owe Americans better service.” “They’re not keeping their end of the agreement, in my opinion.”
“If they can’t uphold their commitments to taxpayers and tourists, Congress should find out why,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).
However, Airlines for America, a lobbying organization for major U.S. airlines, claims that the delays and cancellations are unrelated to the bailout loans and subsidies.
This year, American Airlines, Spirit, and Southwest have all had major problems with employee shortages, technical challenges, and bad weather. Southwest experienced two different occurrences of flight delays and cancellations.
“Travelers have been returning to the skies at a fast rate, and U.S. airlines are striving to recruit and train new staff as well as restore to service aircraft that had been placed in storage to satisfy the increased demand,” Airlines for America stated in a statement to the media source.
One Senator, at the very least, was sympathetic to the airlines.
“They’re dealing with COVID, and it’s made life extremely tough and much more complex for them, just as it has for the rest of the nation and the rest of the globe,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo). “It isn’t the airlines’ fault that they aren’t acting….” They’re doing all they can.”
The “transportation relief fund” is a fund that was created to help with the transportation crisis in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Congress has demanded an accounting of the funds, which have been used for other purposes.
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