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Kaine, Warnock, & Colleagues Introduce Bill to Address Aviation Workforce Shortages

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in introducing the Advancing Inclusion and Representation in the Workforce of Aviation and Transportation Systems (AIRWAYS) Act to address the nation’s aviation workforce shortages by supporting the education, recruitment, and development of pilots, aviation maintenance workers, and aerospace manufacturing workers. Aviation workforce shortages can result in longer delays, a smaller number of scheduled flights, and higher prices for Americans. The bill would also aim to support equity and inclusion in the training pipeline and recruit underrepresented communities.

“The aviation industry helps Americans get where they need to go, creates jobs, and helps connect us to the global economy,” said Kaine. “I’m glad to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to train more Americans in the aviation field and help ensure the aviation industry continues to support Americans for years to come.”

While the U.S. is facing widespread workforce shortages, these challenges have been particularly difficult for the aviation industry. Reuters found that aerospace employment in the U.S. is 8.4 percent below pre-pandemic levels, a reality that threatens to add additional stress to a recovering industry. There is also a persistent lack of diversity across the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), only a small percentage of the aviation workforce – a percentage disproportionate to the demographic breakdown of the entire American workforce – identify as women or racial and ethnic minorities.

Specifically, the AIRWAYS Act would:

  • Establish a new grant program to support the education, recruitment, and workforce development of aircraft pilots and aviation maintenance and manufacturing technical workers.
  • Direct these grants to be awarded primarily to public and non-profit educational institutions or other entities that serve an educational purpose.
  • Strengthen aviation programs at Minority Serving Institutions, a public institution of higher education, or a public postsecondary vocational institution.
  • Prioritize participation of underserved populations in the aviation industry, including veterans, women, people of color, and individuals in economically disadvantaged geographic areas and rural communities.
  • Address workforce needs at rural and regional airports.

Kaine has long championed legislation to address our nation’s workforce challenges. He has introduced the bipartisan JOBS Act, which would help more Americans get good-paying jobs by allowing students to use federal Pell Grants to afford high-quality, shorter-term job training programs.

In addition to Kaine and Warnock, the bill is also cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The legislation is also supported by several organizations and entities, including The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Delta, Gulfstream, the Association of Flight Attendants, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Air Line Pilots Association.

Full text of the bill is available here.