Lawmakers Ask for Probe of Airlines’ Use of COVID-19 Funds

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Lawmakers in Congress are asking for a probe into the ways that airlines used COVID-19 relief funding amid an industry-wide pilot shortage.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines received around $54 billion in funds from Congress to help continue to pay their employees at a time when travelers were scarce. The payments continued for 18 months, ending in September 2021, and required several conditions from airlines, including a prohibition on firing or furloughing employees, limits on compensation to executives, and a ban on stock buybacks and dividends.

Now, lawmakers are requesting a Treasury Department probe into whether the funding was used to fund early retirements and to buy out pilots’ contracts, and how such buyouts fueled current pilot shortages.

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