Senate Hearing Puts Airline Chief in Hot Seat



CEOs for the airlines American, United and Southwest are slated to come before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Wednesday (Dec. 15), Seeking Alpha reported.

They are expected to talk about issues with mass flight cancellations and staffing shortages, according to the report. The committee is concerned about those topics as the industry has taken around $54 billion in federal payroll relief during the pandemic.

In the pandemic’s early weeks, airlines pushed large chunks of employees onto retirement packages, the report stated. When some semblance of normalcy returned months later, it was harder to meet the demand from customers.

American Airlines will tell the committee that its plans include hiring 18,000 workers in 2022, according to the report. Southwest has said it’s planning to hire 8,000 employees next year as well.

All three airlines have seen big improvements since October in terms of delays and cancellations, since they boosted pay and changed schedules, the report stated.

In other airline-related news, several countries have restricted travel from numerous African countries because of the discovery of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Read more: US, Other Countries Restrict African Air Travel Over New COVID Variant

The President Joe Biden administration debuted plans in late November to ban citizens not from the U.S. who were traveling from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The U.K., Singapore and Japan took similar measures.

The restrictions are only for limits on flights from just some countries — not a large percentage of all international travel.

Global airline shares fell because of the news, including the three biggest in the U.S.

The European Union also announced a plan to put an emergency travel break between the 27 countries there and non-members of the bloc. The agreement would get travelers from the countries into quarantine-approved hotels and halt commercial or private flights for a short period of time.

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