The good news is that demand for U.S. air travel has fully recovered from its near collapse during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the bad news is that the aviation system is having trouble coping with surging demand. To be sure, several airlines have had meltdowns this year, but federal policies—set largely by Congress—have played a key role in these air travel problems.
In 2020, Congress provided large-scale grants and loans to passenger airlines, aiming to preserve airline jobs so the airlines would be ready when growth resumed. Unfortunately, most U.S. airlines downsized their workforces, offering generous buy-outs to experienced pilots and