WASHINGTON–Airline pilots from across the nation representing the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and the American Pilots Association (APA) took to Capitol Hill today to attend a U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The pilots delivered letters to members of the committee highlighting airline industry workers’ concerns about the subsidies the Ex–Im Bank provides to foreign airlines that put U.S. airlines at a disadvantage in the global marketplace and threaten thousands of U.S. airline employees’ jobs.
“Airline pilots and thousands of airline industry employees across the country need the U.S. Congress to seize the opportunity presented by the Ex–Im Bank reauthorization to protect U.S. workers and their jobs,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA).
Over the past five years, the Bank has provided financing for dozens of wide-body aircraft to foreign airlines, with aircraft financing representing more than 40 percent of all Bank financing. This financing is provided at rates that are not available to U.S. airlines, and many of these Bank-subsidized aircraft are being used on routes that are, have been, or could be served by U.S. airlines. U.S. carriers have found that they have needed to withdraw from or not enter routes that might otherwise be economically viable, costing airline workers’ jobs.
When determining whether to provide assistance to foreign purchasers of U.S. exports, the Bank is required to give full consideration to any serious adverse effect of the possible financing on the competitive position of U.S. industry and employment. In spite of this clear statutory command, the Bank has decided that it need not undertake an economic-harm assessment in connection with providing financing for aircraft purchases, even though aircraft financing represents more than 40 percent of all Bank financing. Further, there is every indication that Bank financing of wide-body aircraft is likely to grow rapidly and to increasingly threaten the ability of U.S. airlines to compete on international routes.
The pilots on the Hill today asked Senators to direct the Administration to enter into negotiations with the four European countries with export credit agencies supporting Airbus aircraft sales urging them to eliminate ALL export credit agency financing of widebody aircraft. The pilots also asked Congress to ensure that the Bank undertakes its Congressionally mandated economic effects analysis of potential financings to ensure that, with respect to each transaction, the impact of widebody aircraft financing for foreign carriers is in fact a net positive for U.S. industry and employees.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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