Level the Playing Field for U.S. Airlines and their Workers

New ALPA Report Highlighted at First Ever Pilot Legislative Summit in Washington, DC as ALPA pilots blitz Capitol Hill

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A new report issued today by The Air Line Pilots Association Int’l. (ALPA) highlights the growing threat of state-sponsored foreign competition and underscores the need for fundamental changes in U.S. laws and regulations that govern the U.S. airline industry and its employees. The white paper calls on the U.S. government to promote a business environment that gives U.S. carriers the ability to compete and prevail in the international marketplace, especially given the strong competitive cost advantages of many foreign carriers.

“Our foreign competitors are often state-owned with access to a seemingly endless pool of capital, allowing them to expand and buy new aircraft at a rate unheard of by U.S. carriers,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president.  “We need a level playing field that will allow and encourage our domestic carriers, and the employees who work at these airlines, to successfully compete globally.”

The report’s release is timed with ALPA’s first ever legislative summit for pilots held this week at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. More than 100 commercial airline pilots will attend the two-day conference to help shape the Association’s legislative strategy and learn to effectively advocate for pilot issues to elected representatives. ALPA pilots will attend sessions with key members of Congress and Hill staff, receive legislative briefings, and carry the message of leveling the playing field in the aviation industry to their individual members of Congress.

The “Leveling the Playing Field” white paper released today is an updated version of the study issued by ALPA last June. As in last year’s report, the paper details ALPA’s specific policy action plan to level the playing field for U.S. airlines. The Association calls for a major policy overhaul in three key areas:

  • enhancing the aviation business environment
  • defending U.S. aviation jobs in the international marketplace, and
  • strengthening international aviation safety regulations through the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The report discusses in depth the tax burden placed on domestic airlines. ALPA maintains that the taxes and fees currently endured by the U.S. airline industry are higher than those for nearly every other industry in the U.S., adding to the financial burden on the airlines and the traveling public. Today, the commercial airline industry leads all other industries in America with 17 unique taxes and fees from the federal government, resulting in 20 percent or more of the total airline ticket price going to taxes.

Another key issue discussed in the report is foreign ownership of U.S. carriers. Laws governing ownership of U.S. airlines are rooted in basic safety and security considerations, in particular the need to ensure that U.S. air carrier aircraft are available in times of national emergency. These rules also address a key concern of U.S. airline employees—that they receive a fair share of international flying opportunities.

“Any changes to the current laws governing foreign ownership could result in the loss of flying opportunities for U.S. carriers and in a loss of U.S. pilot and airline worker jobs, not to mention the potential threat to national security,” said Moak. “Changes to these laws cannot be allowed to occur.”

The white paper also states ALPA policy that Open Skies agreements should “not put U.S. airlines at a disadvantage in the global marketplace,” yet makes the case that “it’s clear that U.S. airlines are at a distinct disadvantage against foreign airlines in many Open Skies relationships.” Addressing this issue in Washington, DC will be a topic of discussion at the ALPA legislative summit.

To download a copy of the report, please click here.

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