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15 Dec, 2013

U.S. Pilots Launch Fresh Attack on Government over Etihad Deal


WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–December 12, 2013 -The following is the full text of a statement issued by the Air Line Pilots Association.

Today’s announcement by Etihad Airways that the airline will be offering service to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), coming on the heels of last week’s announcement that Qatar Airways would begin service to DFW in 2014, underscores the growing penetration of state-supported Middle Eastern airlines into large and important U.S. markets.

With each new route into the United States by state-owned air carriers, an already unlevel playing field tilts even further in favor of foreign carriers, and, in the case of Etihad, the situation is made dramatically worse by U.S. government policy actively promoting the foreign carrier to the detriment of U.S. carriers and U.S. jobs.

Last year, the U.S. government signed an agreement to establish a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport despite congressional opposition. No U.S. carrier currently flies between Abu Dhabi and the United States—the only carrier with such service is Etihad. Passengers traveling to the United States from the United Arab Emirates could clear U.S. customs in Abu Dhabi before departure, fly on Etihad to the United States, and then quickly connect to a flight anywhere else in the United States.

“A preclearance facility supported by our government in Abu Dhabi clearly benefits only Etihad,” said Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA). “This situation presents a very clear and distinct marketing advantage for Etihad and gives them a clear competitive edge over our U.S. flagship carriers in the global marketplace. It’s essential that our government not provide unfair and unjustifiable advantages—as this preclearance facility would do—to foreign airlines which directly compete on an unlevel playing field against U.S. airlines.”

Further, much of Etihad’s state-of-the-art fleet is made up of Boeing widebody jets purchased at below-market interest rates unavailable to U.S. carriers, yet backed by the U.S. taxpayer through the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The taxpayer-backed financing results in millions of dollars in savings over U.S. carriers and results in U.S. airlines and their employees facing a competitive disadvantage lasting for years, if not decades.

“U.S. government leaders must reform harmful policies and make certain that the United States gives its airlines a fair fight in competing to win international travelers’ business,” said Moak.

ALPA highlights the growing threat of state-sponsored foreign competition and underscores the need for fundamental changes in laws and regulations that govern the U.S. airline industry and its employees in its comprehensive report “Leveling the Playing Field.” The report 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.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 50,000 pilots at 32 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.

Airlines for America Urges Congress to Rework Government Policies to Improve Global Competitiveness of U.S. Airline Industry

December 12, 2013  WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Airlines for America (A4A) President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio testified today before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation, addressing the critical role U.S. airlines play in economic growth and job creation and urging Congress to create a policy environment that enables carriers to run a business while encouraging growth, jobs and better performance for customers.

As the panel explored the state of the U.S. aviation industry, Calio stressed that the latest budget deal, which relies on raising taxes on airline passengers – on top of the $19 billion airlines and their customers already pay – speaks to the disjointed and hostile government action facing the industry. Calio also reiterated calls for a cohesive National Airline Policy to normalize the tax and regulatory environment to be more in line with other industries, enabling the U.S. airline industry to grow and prosper.

“U.S. airlines are a strategic asset and enabler of the broader U.S. economy, yet the policies of our own government continue to impede the viability and competitiveness of our carriers,” said Calio. “Recent action in Congress further underscores the need for a cohesive National Airline Policy, in which the U.S. government recognizes U.S. carriers as a strategic asset and the economic engine that drives 5 percent of GDP and 10 million jobs across the United States.”

In his testimony, Calio identified fundamental tax, regulatory and infrastructure challenges facing the industry here at home, in addition to international challenges from foreign competitors who enjoy favorable treatment from their governments, which is often in direct contrast to the way the U.S. government treats its own carriers.

“Unfortunately, all too often airlines confront indifferent, disjointed or hostile government policies. We operate in a public-policy setting that veers from the listless to the antagonistic,” Calio said. “Our government must play its appropriate role in ensuring U.S. commercial aviation can survive in what is now a dynamic global aviation sector that is rapidly changing – the risk of inaction is far too great.”


Annually, commercial aviation helps drive more than $1 trillion in U.S. economic activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. A4A airline members and their affiliates transport more than 90 percent of all U.S. airline passenger and cargo traffic. America needs a cohesive National Airline Policy that will support the integral role the nation’s airlines play in connecting people and goods globally, spur the nation’s economic growth and create more high-paying jobs.