ALPA to Congress: Export Import Bank Must Reform Widebody Aircraft Financing

On Wednesday, June 25, watch ALPA President, Captain Lee Moak, testify at the House Committee on Financial Services hearing, where he and others will discuss the authorization of the Export Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). With the Bank’s current authorization expiring on September 30, now is the time for this committee to ensure the Bank operates with maximum transparency, uses proper economic modeling, and analyzes the potential of its widebody aircraft financing to harm U.S. industry and threaten U.S. jobs.

With nearly 45 percent of the Bank’s portfolio tied to one company, widebody aircraft financing reform tops the list of items to address. In 2013, the Ex-Im Bank approved $7.9 billion in financing for U.S.-made airliners, operated by U.S. airlines’ competitors—including Etihad Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle, creating an economic advantage of more than $3 million per airplane per year. Given the record aircraft orders at the Dubai airshow in 2013, it is imperative that ALPA is successful in changing the way the Bank does business with state subsidized competitors. Read more about the reforms to the Bank that help level the playing field for pilots. Airline jobs are at stake.

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Senate Vote to Deny NAI Coming This Week

On Monday, June 9th, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted to side with ALPA and Deny NAI. Now the fight moves to the U.S. Senate and all ALPA members are encouraged to participate in our new call to action for ALPA members and the general public urging Senators to vote for the Klobuchar-Coats-Schatz-Blunt Amendment.

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Coats (R-IN), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) plans to introduce an amendment to the Senate’s FY 2015 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act (THUD) when the bill reaches the floor sometime the week of June 16 which would mirror the successful Deny NAI amendment that passed the House last week. The Westmoreland-DeFazio Amendment to the House THUD bill simply reiterates current law, mandating that in order for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to approve a foreign air carrier permit, it must 1) be in the U.S. public interest and 2) comply with Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement which prevents airlines from moving from one EU country to another for the purpose of evading labor laws.

The unanimous House vote in favor of the Westmoreland-DeFazio Amendment is a testament to strong power of ALPA pilots’ collective voice.  NAI’s scheme threatens the future of the U.S. airline industry which is a driver of $1.3 trillion to our GDP.  It also threatens U.S. jobs which is why pilots must engage! To understand the threat, watch ALPA President, Captain Lee Moak’s video message. And participate in ALPA’s Call to Action Deny NAI #2 now (general public here)!

Participate in the Call to Action now, call your Senator through the Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121 and urge them to vote for the Klobuchar-Coats-Schatz-Blunt Amendment to the THUD bill, AND tell your friends and colleagues to sign, call and tweet support for the Klobuchar-Coats-Schatz-Blunt Amendment. Together, we will #DenyNAI.

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ALPA and Congress: To Fly to the United States, Foreign Airlines Must Obey U.S. Law and Policy

DENYNAI

Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed by voice vote an amendment to a transportation funding bill—and did so in 3 minutes from the amendment submission to the vote.

Not surprisingly, the amendment didn’t do anything controversial. It simply stated that for the Department of Transportation to approve a foreign air carrier permit application, the permit cannot contravene United States law or Article 17 bis of the U.S.–E.U.–Iceland–Norway Air Transport Agreement. In short, the amendment, which ALPA aggressively supported, enforces the existing law without mentioning any specific airline or operation.

It’s not shocking that there was unanimity among both parties that voted to support the Westmoreland-DeFazio amendment that prohibits shopping for cheap labor and simply requires the Department of Transportation to follow the law and provisions agreed to in the U.S.-EU Transport Agreement. Read ALPA’s statement.

But pay attention to who opposed the amendment: Norwegian Air International (NAI) launched an aggressive lobbying campaign to defeat this straightforward amendment.

Which leaves one to ask Why? Because NAI knows that if DOT follows the law, then its application for a new foreign air carrier permit will be denied because it doesn’t meet the legal standard set forth in U.S. and international law.

The fact is, when Norwegian launched its service to the United States last May, ALPA did not object. It was only when Norwegian attempted to move its operation outside of Norway six months later to establish a flag-of-convenience airlinein Ireland to avoid Norwegian labor, tax and regulatory laws did we object, and that objection was only to the new business model, not to Norwegian’s existing service to the United States.

Norwegian’s attempt to confuse ALPA’s position has been a desperate effort to distract from the core issues and illustrates perfectly how Norwegian is willing to say anything in its attempt to divert attention from its convoluted scheme to use Singapore contract labor based in Thailand, which would not be allowed under Norwegian law.

NAI’s own statements make it clear that ALPA does not fear “low-cost” competition since we did not–and do not—oppose Norwegian’s initial service to the United States. But, make no mistake, ALPA absolutely opposes Norwegian’s attempt to violate U.S. and international laws with its new proposed business model, which is very different from the “low-cost” service the airline offers now.

NAI’s public relations tactics should not detract from the truth: The Department of Transportation should deny NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit because it runs counter to the U.S. public interest and the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement—and NAI’s vehement opposition to last night’s amendment proves it.

The United States must deny NAI. Norwegian can still fly to the United States and offer whatever “low-cost” product it wishes to consumers.  However, it must do so as its existing Norwegian company, abiding by U.S. and Norwegian law and the provisions agreed upon under the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement. This is the only outcome that allows the marketplace to work for consumers on a truly level playing field.

ALPA will continue its efforts on the Hill to urge the U.S. Senate to support the U.S. House position and send a clear signal that Congress is committed to ensuring that U.S. airlines and their employees do business on a level playing field.

Join the fight—more than 30,000 have already signed the petition to #DenyNAI. Visit sos.alpa.org to participate.

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U.S. Airlines in “Survival Mode” Against Unfair Foreign Competition

New ALPA White Paper Reveals How U.S. Government Must Act to Restore Fair Market

WASHINGTON––U.S. airlines and their workers are in “survival mode” in their fight to compete against foreign airlines that do business with unfair economic advantages, warns the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) in a new white paper issued today.

“U.S. airline workers, whom I believe are the best in the world, welcome the opportunity to compete,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president, today on Capitol Hill. “You can take it from me that we will compete with unmatched determination and an all-out commitment to winning.”

ALPA released Leveling the Playing Field for U.S. Airlines and Their Employees 3.0: Survival Mode, in conjunction with the union’s 2nd Annual Legislative Summit, which this week drew more than 150 airline pilots from across the United States to Washington, D.C., to call on the U.S. government to restore a fair marketplace.

“Some foreign airlines do business with enormous amounts of state support. This is not fair competition,” explained Capt. Moak, who was joined at the briefing by pilots from the union’s mainline, all-cargo, and regional airline pilot groups. “Still others have concocted business schemes to skirt their national laws and gain unfair economic advantages in attracting international passengers. This is not playing by the rules.”

ALPA’s white paper lays out exactly why and how U.S. government leaders must act from an international, consumer, and one-level-of-safety-and-security perspective to ensure U.S. airlines have a fair opportunity in the marketplace. The policy framework makes 15 sets of recommendations about specific actions the U.S. government must take to level the playing field for U.S. airlines.

Among ALPA’s priority issues is the U.S. government’s need to scrutinize key existing and future Open Skies agreements to be certain they advance the value of high labor standards and safeguard U.S. airlines’ ability to compete.

“Since the United States first began its policy, the U.S. share of the international widebody fleet has dropped from 45 percent to 17 percent,” stated Capt. Moak. “That share is forecast to shrink to just 5 percent by 2025. This prediction should keep all of us in the U.S. airline industry awake at night.”

ALPA’s president also highlighted the union’s call for U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx to reject Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) scheme to cheat the system of international aviation policy to compete unfairly against U.S. airlines.

Earlier this month, the union launched the Save Our Skies campaign to mobilize the American public to support U.S. airline jobs by opposing actions that are harmful to the industry. More than 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject NAI’s foreign air carrier permit application. In addition, 115 bipartisan members of Congress have written to DOT expressing concern about the NAI application or calling for its outright rejection.

“Every U.S. airline flightcrew member, regardless of the type of aircraft they fly or whether they carry cargo or passengers, is in this fight,” concluded Capt. Moak. “We are in it for the long run, and we are in it to win a fair marketplace for U.S. airlines and their workers.”

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Save Our Skies: There Is Too Much on the Line Not to Take Action!

Norwegian Scheme Infographic Handout

 

This week, the Air Line Pilots Association, International launched the “Save Our Skies” (S.O.S.) campaign to raise awareness of the real, harmful threats that the U.S. airline industry and its workers face today. Our campaign is taking an aggressive multiplatform media and grassroots approach that will exploit Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) blatant attempt to skirt labor laws. The goal of S.O.S. is to mobilize the American public to voice their collective support and join our efforts to stand up against actions that threaten U.S. aviation jobs.

The S.O.S. campaign focuses on key challenges that negatively impact the U.S. airline industry and its employees, including NAI, excessive airline taxes, state-supported airlines, and Ex-Im Bank subsidies to foreign carriers.

Creating public awareness around these issues, specifically NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit, is crucial to ensuring that the U.S. government levels the playing field for U.S. airlines to compete in the international marketplace. If the U.S. Department of Transportation approves NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit, it would set a dangerous precedent for the airline industry by implementing the same flag-of-convenience model that destroyed the U.S. maritime industry. ALPA won’t let that happen to the U.S. airline industry. As the leading voice of the piloting profession and with the backing from our allies in both the business and labor sectors, we are positioned to win. But we can’t stop here!

More than 30,000 people have signed the #denyNAI petition, and more than 100 members of Congress have voiced their support for our position, urging Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to stop this dangerous scheme and stand up for American workers. If you have not done so already, it’s time to show your support and join the fight to Save Our Skies by telling the Obama administration to #denyNAI.

There is too much on the line not to take action!

Join the Fight: Sign the Petition Today!

 

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Rural Air Service Relies on U.S. Airlines’ Ability to Compete Globally

moakToday, Capt. Lee Moak testified before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee on the serious economic threat to U.S. airlines posed by state-supported foreign airlines and foreign airlines’ business plans that conflict with U.S. policy.

The hearing, title “Air Service to Small and Rural Communities,” included discussion of the Essential Air Service (EAS) program which supports airline service in small and rural communities.  Capt. Moak discussed how economic threats to U.S. airlines will threaten small and rural air service in this country, stating “the most serious challenge faced by this sector is one that threatens the entire U.S. airline industry.”

Additionally, Capt. Moak also made clear ALPA’s position that there is no current pilot shortage of qualified pilots in this country. “There is, however, a pay and benefits shortage for qualified pilots,” he said.  Average beginning pay at a U.S. regional airline is about $24,000.  ALPA submitted testimony calling for:

  • Congress to examine with the Department of Transportation the government’s relationship with regional airlines that accept millions of dollars under its EAS program while offering wages so low they cannot fill their pilot seats.
  • Congress to restore loan guarantees for college and university flight students and work with the airlines to offset pilots’ flight training expenses.
  • The U.S. government to ensure the U.S. airline industry does business on a level playing field that allows U.S. airlines to compete and prevail internationally by, among other actions, limiting regulatory bureaucracy and reducing airline taxes.

For more information about the so-called pilot shortage, please visit www.alpa.org/pilotshortage.

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#DemandTransparency

Demand Transparency ImageA two-year-old government regulation, overturning a 25-year practice, now enables the federal government to hide the outsized, ever-increasing tax amount that airline customers pay to the federal government. This is not pro-consumer. This is pro-government.

Airlines are the only form of transportation required to advertise fares that look deceptively higher than they really are due to the federal taxes are buried within. This makes air travel appear less competitively priced than other forms of transportation—including buses, rail, and even rental cars—that are able to advertise fares without taxes embedded. This also enables the government’s increased taxes to effectively go unnoticed by those who pay them.

Don’t let the government play hide and see with our passengers’ tax dollars. Join the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l and Airlines for America as we #DemandTransparency!

Tell Congress and the administration that you Support Airfare Transparency.

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