The reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank has become a political football in recent months, with partisans on both sides leveraging the issue to score political points—at the expense of U.S. workers. Some Democrats are calling for a “clean” reauthorization of the Bank (a continuation of the Bank’s programs and an increase in its lending cap), while a segment of the Republican caucus wants to let the Bank’s authorization expire. ALPA is advocating for a middle ground—a pragmatic approach that is good for all U.S. workers. We have maintained that targeted, moderate reforms to the Bank to specifically address its widebody aircraft lending practices will give U.S. airlines a level playing field on which to compete with foreign airlines in the global marketplace and position U.S. aviation workers for success.
And there is a path. When ALPA’s president, Captain Lee Moak, testified in the U.S. House of Representatives last month, he joined a panel of witnesses invited by both sides of the aisle. While everyone came with prepared testimony on whether or how the Bank should be reauthorized, every witness agreed that targeted reforms are appropriate.
Authorizing the Bank with commonsense reforms is the right thing to do for thousands of small businesses that rely on the Bank to help them sell their products abroad. By its charter, the Bank is intended to be a lender of last resort for U.S. businesses. The same can’t be said, however, for loans for widebody aircraft, and a disproportionate amount of the Bank’s business finances multibillion-dollar widebody aircraft purchases for foreign airlines that simply don’t need it. Financially solvent Middle Eastern airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, and others are taking advantage of below-market financing at a rate of millions of dollars over the life of an aircraft.
Not only does this undercut the U.S. airline industry’s ability to compete globally, it also shifts industry economics by allowing foreign carriers to make business decisions outside of the business capital markets and economic conditions dictated on U.S. and European airlines. Clearly, this is not the mission of the Bank. We must work together toward a commonsense solution that reauthorizes the Bank this year and helps create a level playing field for all U.S. workers.
Tell Congress that the Bank should be reauthorized this year with targeted, moderate reforms to stop the Bank from financing widebody aircraft to credit-worthy and state-owned or state-supported foreign airlines. ALPA pilots can take action in the Call to Action now!
Visit www.alpa.org/issues for more information.