Airlines are under scrutiny over use of pandemic bailout funds

Kevin Dietsch

Airline companies could face some Congressional scrutiny over the use of the $54B in relief funds that were taken in during the pandemic in order for employees to be kept on the payroll during the period when travel was minimal.

CNBC reports that two House Democrats have asked a Treasury Department watchdog to investigate if the funds were used for employee buyouts and retirement packages during the period with the aim of reducing staffing.

The issue is front and center again with travel demand nearly back to pre-pandemic levels and airlines having problems with staffing, particularly with pilots. The labor shortages have contributed to the elevated level of flight delays and cancellations this year.

Airline stocks: American Airlines (AAL), Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL), Southwest Airlines (LUV), United Airlines (UAL), JetBlue (JBLU), Hawaiian Holdings (HA), Alaska Air Group (ALK), Allegiant Travel (ALGT), Spirit Airlines (SAVE), Mesa Airlines (MESA), SkyWest (SKYW), Sun Country Airlines (SNCY), Frontier Group (ULCC).

Last weekend, airline traffic in the U.S. topped holiday pre-pandemic level for the first time.