WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), fervently expresses its support for a letter sent to the United States Trade Representative from 160 bipartisan members of Congress, conveying their strong opposition to the inclusion of air transport traffic rights in the current Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the European Union.
The letter, dated July 8, coincides with the commencement of the latest TTIP talks and emphasizes that the negotiation of air transport services has complex implications. Accordingly, any discussion of commercial aviation issues such as foreign ownership or cabotage rules should continue to be handled by the U.S. State and Transportation Departments. In the letter, the congressmen emphasize, “These two agencies are well equipped to do this and possess the necessary expertise to negotiate on behalf of the commercial aviation industry and its employees.
“Any request to add air traffic rights to the TTIP negotiations is an attempt by the EU to circumvent the established process for negotiating an air services agreement because they are not satisfied with the current U.S.-EU air transport agreement,” the letter continues.
In addition to the potential effect on the U.S. aviation industry and American workers, the negotiation of aviation trade issues must take into consideration the U.S. military’s dependence on American carriers as part of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF).
ALPA president Capt. Lee Moak points out that “dozens of U.S.-based airlines participate in CRAF and are responsible for the airlift of our troops for overseas deployments in critical situations. This partnership depends upon the availability of domestic airline aircraft, which could be jeopardized if the negotiation of air traffic rights isn’t carefully deliberated.”
“We applaud the 160 Republican and Democratic members of Congress for anticipating the complications of including commercial air traffic arrangements in the TTIP negotiations,” said Moak. “We hope that these trade talks generate positive results for all parties involved, but remain adamant that the bargaining of commercial air travel must be left to those who best understand the far-reaching implications of such decisions.”