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The Wall Street Journal: Airline CEOs to get grilled by lawmakers over flight disruptions after federal aid

Airline executives are expected to answer lawmakers’ questions Wednesday about why some carriers struggled at times to absorb a resurgence in travel demand, after the industry received billions of dollars in federal aid to avoid such issues.

Lawmakers have been scrutinizing airlines more closely amid a series of high-profile meltdowns in recent months. Carriers received some $54 billion in federal grants and were barred from furloughing workers, but some still faced growing pains after allowing thousands of workers to retire early when demand was uncertain.

Chief executive officers of American Airlines Group Inc.
AAL,
-0.56%

and Southwest Airlines Co.
LUV,
-0.55%

 —among those carriers that have had staffing problems at times—will testify at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, along with the CEO of United Airlines Holdings Inc.
UAL,
-0.75%

 and the chief of operations at Delta Air Lines Inc.
DAL,
-0.30%

Air-travel demand plummeted in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, and Congress approved three rounds of federal aid aimed at covering the majority of airlines’ payroll costs so they wouldn’t have to furlough or lay off employees. Carriers and unions had argued that the aid would help workers, who wouldn’t lose pay, as well as companies, which could avoid time-consuming retraining that could constrain recovery.

An expanded version of this story appears on WSJ.com.

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