Bipartisan Committee Leaders Request Clarity from Airlines on Management of Payroll Support Program Funds
Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) requested yesterday that Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio provide clarity on how airlines managed funds provided to them under the Payroll Support Program (PSP) and what effect these funds have had on airlines’ recent operational capabilities.
Under the PSP program—which was created by the 2020 CARES Act and funded in subsequent COVID relief packages, including the American Rescue Plan—funds must be used exclusively to pay employee wages, salaries, and benefits.
In their letter, DeFazio and Graves write, “We are aware that, without visibility into the timing of a recovery of passenger demand and taking historical experience into account, a substantial number of workers across the airline industry accepted voluntary separation packages as airlines dramatically reduced capacity and their flight schedules last year to remain solvent…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.”
The Members continued: “…we expect airlines to take whatever measures are available to ameliorate any short-staffing issues and begin to address longer-term workforce shortages. As you know, travelers don’t care why their flight is delayed. They care just that it’s delayed.”
DeFazio and Graves concluded by requesting answers to several questions regarding how airlines have been managing PSP funds, especially as the next phase of the holiday travel season approaches.
The full letter text can be found below and here.