A Question Begging an Answer.

Travel columnist Christopher Elliott is angry. And he’s asking the airlines a question that the politicians and the media and the appropriate federal agencies should also be asking:

How did you spend the money?

To refresh your memory, because the COVID pandemic caused most of the general public to stop flying, the federal government gave the airlines roughly $80 billion so they wouldn’t have to lay off thousands of their employees. Some very smart folks believe that the $80 billion was a big reason why our economy didn’t collapse. 

But here’s what Elliott wants to know:

If the taxpayers gave the airlines 80 billion dollars so they wouldn’t have to lay off employees, why did American Airlines have to cancel more than a thousand flights a week or so ago because of “staffing problems”?

Southwest Airlines did the same thing a week earlier: they cancelled hundreds of flights because they didn’t have enough employees to fly their planes.

And, lest anyone think I’m playing favorites, at first blush it would appear that the same question could be posed to Amtrak, also the beneficiary of some federal cash to keep employees on the payroll through COVID, but letting some go anyway. 

There’s no doubt that we will be discussing the didn’t-do’s and shoulda-done’s regarding this pandemic for years to come. It should be very clear to any unbiased observer, however, that hundreds of thousands of illnesses and deaths could have been avoided if our government’s response to the pandemic had been based on the best possible medical advice. 

Instead the danger was downplayed by then-president Trump, who even suggested an anti-malaria drug could be effective against the COVID virus. It wasn’t.